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Truck drivers must fight fatigue

The cause of most truck accidents is driver fatigue, and research points to long work hours without enough recovery time as the reason for those accidents. In an effort to reduce the annual number of large truck crashes, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued new regulations on the number of hours that truckers may operate their vehicles.

Two new requirements

Studies conducted in the field confirmed the long hours many truckers work. The 2011 FMSCA rule change stipulates that within the first eight hours of a shift, drivers must take a rest break of 30 minutes. The other requirement of note concerns the "restart," which is a 34-hour rest period. The new rule here is that the restart can only be employed once every seven days. Included must be at least two rest periods taken between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. The objective is to reduce the hours a driver can work each week and increase rest and recovery time.

Causes of trucker fatigue

In addition to long working hours, physical environment plays a part in trucker fatigue because they are constantly subjected to vehicle vibration and temperature changes. Irregular eating habits along with inadequate sleep and the use of drugs and alcohol can cause fatigue. Additionally, the job has its frustrations, and drivers are exposed to daily challenges such as bad weather and dangerous road conditions, which add to the problem.

Tips to curb potential fatigue

Because sleep is so important, truckers are advised to work on finding their natural sleep rhythm by staying up longer or going to bed earlier. Experimenting may also include trying to relax more. Using free time for something enjoyable, like fishing or camping, may help. Truckers who are overweight should try to lose a few pounds because carrying around extra weight can add to that tired, worn-out feeling. Proper nutrition is also important; truckers should eat a well-balanced diet that includes the major food groups. In addition, avoiding alcohol is a good idea because it causes fatigue and disturbs sleep. Reducing caffeine to a couple of cups of coffee a day is also a good idea. Exercise is important to break up long hours spent sitting behind the wheel. In fact, regular exercise helps build stamina and can actually reduce fatigue.

When accidents happen

Fatigue often occurs with older drivers or those who have been on the road for a long time. Despite rule changes designed to help truckers manage this condition, it is still a major factor in truck-car crashes, often with calamitous results. If you have sustained injuries from such an accident, are facing considerable recovery time and seemingly endless medical bills, remember that an attorney experienced with personal injury cases is standing by to help.

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