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What makes fatigue in the trucking industry so deadly?

You can often spot Illinois truckers on the highway making their rounds. What you cannot spot is whether the driver behind the wheel has gotten enough sleep before hitting the road.

Drowsy driving has recently gained spotlight attention as national awareness of its risks grows. Any drowsy driver can pose a potential threat to others on the road. But the risk is even larger when examining drowsy driving from the lens of the trucking industry.

How prevalent is drowsy driving?

The Sleep Foundation looks at the statistics of drowsy driving, which paint a grim picture. First, it is often more widespread than you may think. 41 percent of interviewed drivers claimed to have fallen asleep at the wheel at least once. Over a quarter of the interviewed drivers also claimed to “struggle keeping their eyes open” within the last month.

This issue is even more exacerbated in the trucking industry, which thrives on drivers going long distances in a short span of time. Many employers in this industry value speed over safety, leading to a culture of sleep deprivation in the trucking industry. According to one study, most truckers do not get more than 5 hours of sleep a night.

Why are fatigued truckers so dangerous?

The prevalence is just one part of the risk, though. The other is the sheer size of the vehicle truckers drive. An 18-wheeler often weighs 40 tons or more. The length of the vehicle often falls between 70 and 80 feet, too. In other words, these trucks take up a huge amount of space and weigh more than any personal vehicle on the road. When a trucker crashes, they can easily take out entire lanes of traffic and send multiple cars full of people to the hospital. As such, the industry remains the biggest risk when it comes to drowsy driving.

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