Accidents happen every day, but even a minor collision with a semi-truck can have devastating results. Large trucks only make up about 4% of vehicles on the roadways, but they’re involved in roughly one out of every ten highway fatalities. With long distances to drive, grueling hours, and loneliness to combat, truckers face many unique obstacles on the road. Here are three of the more common mistakes truckers make that can have deadly consequences:
1. Truck driver fatigue
Driving while drowsy can impair drivers’ response time to road hazards and increase their likelihood of getting in an accident. Truckers often have a strict delivery schedule that requires them to drive a significant distance with little breaks or opportunities for rest. According to one study, 13% of commercial truck drivers were fatigued at the time of their collision.
While federal laws and regulations limit the number of hours spent on the road, many trucking companies still don’t abide by these laws. As a result, fatigued truckers are a significant risk to passenger vehicles on the road.
2. Distracted driving
All drivers are prone to get distracted on the road. But with the long hours alone in the cab of a truck, it’s especially easy for a trucker to become distracted in traffic. Whether it’s texting, eating while driving or fiddling with the radio and GPS, all of these activities take the truck driver’s focus away from driving.
A 2009 study found that a whopping 71% of large truck crashes occurred when a trucker was doing something other than driving. If a trucker isn’t paying attention, it puts everyone on the road at risk.
3. Driving under the influence
Due to the isolating nature of the work or long hours, a significant number of truck drivers turn to drugs and alcohol on the job. In one study that looked at substance abuse in truckers worldwide, truckers in the U.S. had the highest frequency of positive tests for alcohol with an alarming 12.5% of truck drivers.
Driving under the influence increases risky driving behaviors, slows reaction times and impair judgment. Once stimulants such as amphetamines wear-off, drivers are also more likely to fall asleep at the wheel.
Truck drivers face many challenges while driving. By being mindful of these potential errors the next time you share the road with a large truck, you can help yourself avoid potentially serious accidents.