A recent personal essay posted on TruckingTruth is so well written, and so illustrative of what truckers have to deal with in terms of sleep deprivation, that we wanted to talk about it here. In the article, a trucker describes his process of coming to grips with the strange sleeping patterns associated with the long haul.
For “TruckerMike,” his main challenge related to the lack of a normal bed time. He revealed a common phrase from industry veterans that says, “Drive when you have to, sleep when you can.” This phrase encapsulates the problem: Truckers need to get from one place to another on a strict timeline, but the human body — and its need for rest and recuperation — doesn’t always operate on a schedule.
If you think about it, office workers are quite different. If you’re an accountant, your “tired” day means you won’t get as many tax returns done, you’ll be working slower and you might make some calculation errors. No one will notice. As a trucker, on the other hand, your tired day means that you’re falling asleep behind the wheel of an 80,000-pound vehicle that could cause massive destruction if it collides with something, and you’re surrounded by families in SUV’s and other drivers in smaller cars.
According to TruckerMike, the very laws intended to support a healthy sleep and rest schedule can interfere with their ability to get the sleep they need. They have to plan for days in advance to operate under a specific driving schedule that brings them the most money — but it pushes the limits of the legal barriers. TruckerMike says he’ll often drive for an eight-hour shift, but when it’s done — and when he’s supposed to sleep — he’s not sleepy yet.
Tired truckers are not safe for the mom-and-pop drivers of the world. However, it’s a reality with which we have to contend. At the very least, if a fatigued truck driver caused you or someone in your family harm, consider pursuing a lawsuit for financial restitution and justice. The more lawsuits we bring forward, the more attention we bring to this important issue.
Source: Trucking Truth, “The Sleep Cycle of a Truck Driver – It Doesn’t Exist,” accessed June 23, 2017