According to national statistics, there are approximately 100,000 crashes on the highways each year that can be attributed to drowsy driving. While, certainly, not all of these involve tractor trailer truck drivers, there are a lot of concerns about the danger posed by these giant machines on the roads due to the lack of sleep seen by many of the drivers. Drowsy driving leads to more than 1,500 deaths each year and an additional 70,000 injuries. It is clear that fatigue is a major issue on American roads.
Even with the most recent regulations on the trucking industry, Pinellas drivers can be on the road for as many as 11 consecutive hours (fortunately, this is a positive change, as old regulations allowed for 14 hours per day). Over the period of one week, they can clock an astounding 70 hours (this has also seen some change, with the industry once allowing a driver up to 84 hours). While it is mandated that drivers take half an hour break every eight hours, this is just enough time to grab a quick meal before hitting the road again and that can become very taxing on the body.
In order to contend with exhaustion, many truck drivers will turn to energy supplements and drinks. Unfortunately, these aids are not healthy solutions. The only real solution to fatigue is rest. How dangerous are energy drinks?
- For people with underlying heart conditions, just a few energy drinks in a day’s time can be enough to cause cardiac arrest. Imagine being behind the wheel of a big rig when your heart stops beating? It is very likely that this will result in more than one death.
- Drinking energy supplements regularly can lead to insomnia. Sure the person will be awake for more hours per day – perhaps seen as a good thing by some truck drivers – but insomnia is a serious medical condition that can impair function and greatly reduce reaction time, something that is very essential when spend long spans of time on the highway.
- Addiction is also a concern. Caffeine addiction might not carry the same stigma as dependence on cocaine or heroin, but it does come with some very negative body impacts. The most important of these being the inability to function without the substance and that means staying awake and mentally capable during long spans without an energy drink would be nearly impossible.
- Another major side effect of too much caffeine is anxiety. An anxious mind is not a clear mind and that, of course, means that the person will have difficulty making split second decisions or may cause them to overreact.
The good news is that the trucking industry is cracking down on some of the bad habits ingrained in drivers by creating stricter regulations. In addition to cutting down on the allowed hours on the road, they have also mandated that truckers take 34 consecutive hours off between 70-hour work weeks, including two nights (1am to 5am).
If involved in a tractor trailer accident, it is essential that you contact a Pinellas personal injury attorney because factors like drowsiness can make it possible for you to collect damages that will help cover the costs of medical care and car repair.