Fatigue risks for commercial truck drivers

Everyone has an internal clock that causes the body to prepare for sleep at night, and in most people, it slows alertness down at siesta time in the early afternoon. Those are the times at which commercial truck drivers in Pennsylvania and other states put their lives on the line if they do not get enough sleep. Denying their bodies the necessary rest causes a sleep debt that could lead to fatigue and falling asleep while driving — even microsleeps for seconds at a time can be fatal.

There are strict regulations that govern the number of hours commercial truck drivers may drive before resting for a specified period. However, some employers set unrealistic deadlines that force drivers to exceed allowed driving hours. Other factors that can exacerbate fatigue include physical exertion regarding other job responsibilities such as loading and unloading cargo.

Sometimes, drivers who experience personal financial hardship drive more extended hours to earn extra money — especially if they are paid per mile driven. Some employers who disregard driver safety offer financial incentives for drivers who have quicker turnaround times. This does not only present a fatigue risk, but it also encourages drivers to speed and threaten their own lives and the lives of other road users.

Commercial truck drivers in Pennsylvania can prevent the risks of fatigued driving by recognizing the signs of fatigue setting in. However, those who are pushed to exceed the limits and suffer the consequences of road accidents, overexertion or even job-related psychological problems might find comfort knowing that the workers’ compensation insurance program will cover any resulting medical expenses. Legal counsel can assist with filing benefits claims that might even include a wage-replacement package.

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