There is an infinite assortment of traffic and vehicle challenges that can lead to a crash. However, there are certain trends that are particularly hard to ignore in the world of traffic safety. Especially when looking at commercial vehicle collisions, such as crashes between semi-trucks and passenger vehicles, certain concerning trends are clear.
Both fatigue and distraction are leading causes of semi-truck collisions. Drivers who are aware of those risks may have an easier time avoiding a crash caused by a semi-truck or demanding justice after one.
How fatigue affects driving
Anyone who has driven on a highway for an hour or two understands the idea of highway hypnosis. Staring straight ahead at the lines in the road and monitoring traffic becomes incredibly monotonous. Even someone who got a full night of sleep could start dozing off in that situation.
Unfortunately, truck drivers are often at the wheel for far more than an hour or two. They may have gone quite some time without sleep. The longer someone goes without rest, the more affects their ability. The National Safety Council compares drowsy driving to drunk driving.
A semi-truck driver who hasn’t slept in more than 20 hours may have a hard time focusing, might make the wrong choices in traffic and may have longer reaction times. They could also fall asleep at the wheel. Any of those side effects from fatigue could cause a preventable crash.
Fighting fatigue can cause distraction
There are many ways for truck drivers to try to stay alert and awake at the wheel. They might call friends or family members. Even when they use hands-free devices, those conversations can be a dangerous distraction. They might also decide to drink a cup of coffee or eat a meal to keep their blood sugar stable so that staying awake is easier.
Unfortunately, any distraction that takes someone’s hands off of the wheel or their eyes off of the road can increase their reaction times and the likelihood of causing a collision. There are federal traffic safety laws that aim to curtail semi-truck collisions by limiting how long they drive and prohibiting the manual use of devices at the wheel.
Ultimately, both fatigue and distraction in commercial driving situations continue to cause collisions that injure people in smaller vehicles. Other drivers may need to watch semi-trucks carefully for signs that the drivers are tired or aren’t paying attention. They may also want to give them more space so that they have time to react if the driver loses control or makes a mistake, as understanding what contributes to semi-truck crash risk might save someone’s life in traffic.