Have you ever taken a step back and considered what an incredible responsibility it is to be a semi-truck driver? Considering the job entails navigating giant vehicles that carry up to — and sometimes more than — 80,000 pounds of cargo from coast-to-coast and deliver important goods in a timely fashion, it’s an incredibly important job to be a truck driver, a fleet overseer or a trucking company owner.
That’s why safety should always be a top priority. And with June being National Safety Month, it’s a great time to look at some of the top risk-factors that lead to serious tractor-trailer accidents.
Large trucks make up slightly less than 5 percent of all vehicles on our roads, highways and interstates, and truck drivers face rigorous testing and certification procedures, making them some of the safest drivers on the road. However, because of the large size, weight difference and speed at impact, large truck accidents involving passenger vehicles often result in a higher rate of injuries and deaths.
That’s why no truck driver should ever take for granted the training, certifications and inspections he or she might have under their belts. Always keep your safety procedures — good sleep, a thorough pre-trip check, etc. — top of mind, no matter what your deadline is.
Remember: A bad wreck can do much more damage to your reputation, and your life, than arriving to a destination an hour late.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the most common factors that lead to semi-truck collisions and accidents are: Poor training, Driver fatigue, Speeding, Overloaded trucks, Oversized trucks, Brake failure, Poor driving conditions, Driver inexperience, Failure to yield, Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, Aggressive, dangerous or reckless driving, Mechanical failure, Improper maintenance, Defective Parts.
Driver fatigue and sleep apnea
Being tired at the wheel happens a lot. In fact, driver fatigue is easily one of the top factors in semi-truck accidents. The National Traffic Safety Board has stated that truck driver fatigue was a factor in about 40 percent of all semi-truck accidents and that proper sleep is critical to driver safety.
Because of these findings, the NTSB has issued rules that state drivers should get eight hours of continuous sleep following 15 hours of duty or 10 hours of driving. These guidelines aren’t just a suggestions you can shrug off, they could potentially save your life to take them to heart.
In recent years, sleep apnea has been discovered as one of the top health hazards related to the trucking industry. Unfortunately, sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed, and those who suffer from it normally don’t even realize they do. But its affects can be very damaging, especially when your profession calls for being alert and focused on the highway.
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, “Sleep apnea usually is a chronic (ongoing) condition that disrupts your sleep. When your breathing pauses or becomes shallow, you’ll often move out of deep sleep and into light sleep. As a result, the quality of your sleep is poor, which makes you tired during the day. Sleep apnea is a leading cause of excessive daytime sleepiness.”
Doctors diagnose sleep apnea by looking at family history, physical exams and sleep studies. If you think you might have a problem with sleep apnea, talk to your family doctor first. If he or she feels you may be at risk, the next step may be to see a sleep specialist. It may seem like a pain, but it’s a conversation that could save your life and the lives of others on the road.
North Dixie Truck and Trailer, Inc. can help you stay safe by offering the best parts and services available. Whether it be an expert alignment, a thorough inspection or the top tires for the road, we’re a one-stop shop. And if you need an emergency pick-up, our 24-hour service is always there for you. Call us today at 419-221-2750 (Maintenance), 419-222-8785 (Parts) or 1-800-440-9523 (Emergency) or check us out online http://northdixietruck.com/.
Sources: National Transportation Safety Board, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute