When you don't get enough sleep, it can affect the health of your brain and everything you do. Being tired can make it harder for you to make good decisions or react quickly when the situation requires an immediate response. If you have ever wound up behind the wheel of a car while feeling exhausted, you likely know how difficult it can be to drive safely and stay awake when you feel tired.
In fact, medical research indicates that exhaustion impacts the brain in a similar manner to alcohol. It can cause longer reaction times and make it harder to focus. People who feel tired are more likely to make poor decisions at the wheel that could result in a wreck.
Unfortunately, the entire culture and industry of trucking seems to lend itself toward dangerously fatigued driving. Truck drivers aren't somehow magically immune to exhaustion just because they drive for a living. Instead, they are potentially more prone to it because they work very long days and often have monotonous shifts.
A professional driver's schedule may not reflect their biological needs
Trucking companies make arrangements to deliver goods, regardless of circumstances. Sometimes, they even offer extra compensation to drivers who can make deliveries within a specific window of time. This means that drivers have to struggle through terrible weather or bad traffic in an attempt to make an on-time delivery, regardless of the risks.
That could mean working longer hours than they should or driving at dangerously high speeds for the current weather conditions. Additionally, companies may schedule truckers for the maximum amount of work time allowed under the federal rules for commercial vehicles.
In that scenario, a truck driver likely won't have the opportunity to secure eight hours of sleep because of their commute to and from work, as well as the time spent eating, engaging in personal grooming and performing chores after work. In other words, there simply may not be enough hours in the day for a commercial driver to get eight hours of sleep if they work the maximum allowed number of hours.
Tired drivers are dangerous drivers
Regardless of whether a fatigued driver is in control of a personal vehicle or a commercial vehicle, they pose an unnecessary risk to everyone else on the road. The delayed reactions and cognitive deficits, like difficulty focusing on driving, could combine to create a dangerous situation that leads to injuries and serious property damage.
People who get hurt by irresponsible drivers, including commercial drivers who operate a vehicle while fatigued, may have the right to seek compensation under the law in Pennsylvania. Talking with an attorney is always a good idea in the wake of a serious collision with a commercial vehicle.