To be a professional truck driver, you have deadlines to hit, and to hit your times, you have to remain vigilant on the road. You can’t make too many or too long stops, but you also don’t want to fall asleep at the wheel as overexertion can lead to disaster. You have to be ready to face inclement weather as semi, and long-haul drivers could drive through multiple states and, thus, different weather patterns in a single day or trip.
To accomplish these goals, drivers need to do what they can to remain awake and their eyes on the road and their rig’s health, which is no easy task.
In 2017, a record number (885) of professional truck drivers passed away after deadly crashes on the road. In 2017, the numbers weren’t pretty either, as 840 truckers lost their lives. This figure is the highest such figure since 1988. These numbers don’t even include the thousands of traffic fatalities of those who collided with these large rigs. What has led to the unnecessary loss of life? Some avenues point to drug use, driving behaviors and truck safety and technology.
Non-medical drug use
One in 7 or just above 14% of all truck driving applicants fail a drug test. If these drivers do end up passing the test, do they begin taking their recreational drugs or alcohol once they pass the drug-screening? And putting non-medical drugs aside, driving tired, and experiencing overexertion to meet deadlines can lead to severe crashes.
Suspect driving behaviors
The top three driving actions that led to the record number of trucker deaths include distracted driving, the driver not wearing a seat belt and excessive speeding. Specifically, in work zones, distracted behaviors by heavy-duty truck drivers led to 30% of crashes. Even if you are alert and paying attention to the road, it takes time for a large truck to stop, or even slow down their rig. If they are visually, cognitively, or manually distracted, it’s nearly impossible to stop or slow down in time.
Many new trucks are coming equipped with technology to assist these professional truck drivers like lane-departure warnings, adaptive cruise control, and automatic emergency braking. Any advanced safety technology is bound to benefit truck drivers and their numerous responsibilities and tight deadlines.