When an accident happens involving a trucker, fatigue is often one of the reasons listed. The 2014 accident involving Tracy Morgan made national headlines, but it’s not an uncommon story. Unfortunately, a lot of truckers are tired. The question that people don’t always ask is, “Why?”
Time Spent Behind the Wheel
The 14 hour drive rule sounds good in theory. If you start your day at 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning, you have to stop no later than 8:00 or 9:00 at night. The problem is many drivers will feel pressured to drive the entire time regardless of how tired they are. They’ve got deadlines to make, delivery times to hit, and if they’re not driving, they’re not earning any money.
Trying to Split Their Hours Doesn’t Always Work
Trying to “split” their time with a continuous eight hours off in the middle of their 14 hours sounds like a good idea. They get some sleep, unwind a little, and get back on the road. The problem is that many drivers may drive another hour or two, get to their pick-up and find that they have a long wait. If they’ve only been awake a little while, it’s unlikely they can sleep again, so they’ll be awake while they wait and for the next 13 hours of driving.
Not Being Able to Plan Their Next Load
In a perfect world, each driver would know the details of their next load the day before they drop the one they’re currently working on. This let’s them schedule when they can sleep to accommodate the next load. But if they don’t have a preplan, they might drive a few hours and find that they have a long wait before they can get back on the road. Now they’re back to that split problem that they had before.
Not Enough Time Home
Plenty of trucks are out on the road for a few weeks and home only for a few days. In that time, your drivers have to cram everything in – from taking care of their home and car to spending time with their family. And in the middle, they’re supposed to rest and relax. It’s no wonder they’re exhausted when they get back on the road.
Being Paid By the Mile
If a driver isn’t eating up the miles in their truck, they’re not getting paid. While being paid by the mile certainly encourages drivers to work harder (and hopefully smarter), it makes for a lot of hours behind the wheel. Too many drivers will push themselves to get in a few hundred more miles when what they really need is a nap.
What To Do About Being So Tired
It starts with the quality of sleep. There are a few things your drivers can do:
- Eat right and exercise. This will help your drivers feel less bloated and restless when they finally lay down.
- Encourage your drivers to use white noise machines, earplugs, and eye masks to block out any noise, light, or distractions when they go to bed.
- Make their sleeper berth as comfortable as possible.
- Allow your drivers to rest when they need to rest. Driving tired is a lot like driving drunk. It’s better to slow down, get some sleep, and get back on the road than to cause an accident that could kill someone.
You might not be able to do much to change the long days or the wait times from the shippers and receivers, but you can encourage your drivers to take care of themselves so they’re not as tired when they’re on the road.