Many people know about the risks of drunk driving and distracted driving, but fewer people consider drowsy driving to be the same kind of risk. In fact, quite a few people knowingly get behind the wheel while exhausted.
Driving while feeling tired is dangerous enough when it involves people in passenger vehicles, but when a fatigued driver is behind the wheel of a powerful commercial vehicle, the impact of drowsiness or fatigue on their performance could prove fatal for other people.
Your brain doesn’t function properly when you aren’t fully rested
Sleep is necessary for optimal physiological functioning. Not only do you perform better physically after a good night’s sleep, but your brain is also sharper and at its peak when well-rested. The opposite is also true.
When people feel exhausted and haven’t gotten enough sleep, their physical and mental performance begins to decline. Lack of sleep can affect how long it takes someone to react. It can make it harder for people to focus on their surroundings, and it can also impair their judgment. In other words, fatigued driving has many of the same problematic characteristics as drunk driving does.
Additionally, extreme exhaustion can lead to feeling drowsy, which might make a driver fall asleep at the wheel. Losing control of a vehicle by falling asleep could have horrifying consequences.
Commercial drivers may be more tired than most others on the road
Quite a few people work long hours and don’t get enough sleep. Commercial drivers are under a lot of pressure to perform constantly without enough rest. They work on a series of revolving deadlines, and in some cases, the amount that they get paid reflects whether or not a load made it somewhere on time.
Commercial drivers may have shifts that last for half a day or longer, without factoring in their responsibilities at home. They could work day after day, especially if what they haul exempts them from federal limits on driving time and shift length.
When tired truckers take the wheel, they may not be able to react properly or quickly enough to traffic changes, meaning that they can cause severe and even fatal crashes. Those who have experienced a crash caused by a commercial driver may need to explore their rights, including the right to file an insurance claim or a lawsuit in some scenarios.