Are You A Tired Truck Driver?  How Can That Affect You?

Mini CDL Training Lessons

Today we're kicking off a new series on the blog called "Mini CDL Training Lessons."  The idea is to dive into some topics that impact the safety of truck drivers a little deeper to make things easy and simple to understand.  Let's get started with a very important topic - driving when you're too tired...

Understanding Fatigued Driving
As a professional truck driver, you’ve probably experienced fatigued driving at some point during your career. Simply put, fatigued driving means operating a CMV while ill, fatigued or tired, or in violation of the DOT Hours of Service. Fatigued driving is dangerous, and truck drivers need to understand the consequences of it.

truck driver fatigue

If you think about the sheer weight of a 48-foot loaded semi, it’s easy to see how dangerous it can be to operate one if you’re not adequately rested. Consider how much damage you could potentially cause if you lost control of that 80,000 pound vehicle. There have been instances where truck drivers have drifted across multiple lanes of traffic or driven off overpasses because they were too tired to drive but pushed themselves to deliver a load early. When you’re not well-rested, your reaction time slows significantly and you not only put yourself in danger, but also everyone else on the road with you.

Truck drivers all know that fatigued driving is dangerous. It’s drilled into their heads from day 1, yet still there are instances of truck drivers pushing the boundaries and causing accidents that can result in injuries and even fatalities. Sometimes it’s because truck drivers are paid by the mile. The longer they drive and the more miles they log, the bigger the check they earn. So, as you can imagine, many overexert themselves and drive longer than they’re legally allowed to so they can bring home a bigger chunk of money. Whatever the reason, it's not worth the risk. If you feel you're too tired to continue or you're at your max number of DOT hours of service, stop for the night.

Truck drivers must be aware of the consequences of fatigued driving. Any violations will show up on your fatigued driving BASIC (Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories). Violations on this BASIC will not only affect you as an individual - they will also affect your company’s safety grade. The more fatigued driving violations you have, the higher your BASIC score, and the more likely it is that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will intervene. Contact with the FMCSA could range anywhere from a warning letter to a personal audit or fine. Not only will your career be threatened, you’ll also be putting your carrier company and fellow motorists’ safety on the line.

The following chart illustrates some fatigued driving violations and their severity level:

Violation Severity
Operating a CMV while ill or fatigued 10
Violating an out-of-service order related to Hours of Service 10
Violating any federal or state Hours of Service limits 7
Submitting a false log 7
Failing to complete a log, or logging improperly 5
Failing to keep a log current 5
Failing to record days spent off duty 5
Failing to submit logs within 13 days 5
Failing to retain previous 7 days' logs 5
Violating a log "form & manner" rule 2
Violating an on-board recorder requirement 1

As you can see, fatigued driving is a serious issue that should not be taken lightly. The potential to lose control if you're not alert and focused while driving is huge. Not only do you pose a danger to the general public when you drive fatigued, you also threaten your career and the safety grade of your carrier company. Do you really want all of that on your conscience? Is that extra money really worth the risk you take? No load is more important than your safety. As a professional, it's your job to be a safe, responsible truck driver. This means putting your pride aside and stopping for the night when you know you're too tired to safely continue. By being responsible and obeying the DOT Hours of Service, you set a good example for what being a professional truck driver really means.

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