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How does sleep deprivation impact truckers?

Sleep deprivation plays a major role in crashes related to drowsiness. Drowsiness occurs for many reasons, but regardless of its cause, it can increase a driver’s chances of getting involved in a collision by a large margin.

This is even riskier for those in the trucking industry. Just how does sleep deprivation affect truck drivers? Why is it such a big danger for truckers in the first place?

Misconceptions truckers have about drowsiness

Sleep Foundation takes a look at the way sleep deprivation may impact truckers. First, truckers and non-commercial vehicle drivers all get impacted in the same way. Some truckers insist that they have “built a tolerance” to drowsiness, but this is simply not true. The human body does not “adjust” to a lack of sleep, though you can mentally fool yourself into thinking it does.

Likewise, many truckers swear by “wakefulness tricks” such as rolling the windows down or blasting loud music. Again, these tricks do nothing in the long term. While they might temporarily wake you up, they cannot keep you awake. The only cure for drowsiness is to sleep more.

The common problem of sleep deprivation

Unfortunately, truckers run a tight schedule that often requires them – or makes them feel obligated – to skimp out on a full night’s rest. This is an industry-wide problem that poses several risks. First, it puts truckers themselves at risk. If a truck drives off the road, the driver will likely suffer severe injury.

It also puts everyone else on the road at risk. No car is bigger than a semi-truck. Thus, any vehicle they get into a crash with will end up worse for wear. This is why many proponents of traffic safety struggle to make better sleep a requirement for truckers.