Because of their long hours and odd schedules, truckers sometimes suffer from sleep deprivation and trough disrupted sleep cycles. In a Journal of Public Health Policy paper, “Long Hours and Fatigue: A Survey of Tractor-Trailer Drivers,” a team of investigators chronicled interviews they conducted with 1,249 semi-truck drivers at truck stops and inspection stations in Florida, Connecticut, Oregon and Oklahoma. In addition, 19% of the truck drivers reported having fallen asleep at their truck’s wheel one or more times during the prior month, and two-thirds admitted having under-reported their actual hours of work in their log book during the previous year. Falsification of logs is, in fact, so common — and verification of log entries so difficult for USDOT officials — so much so that truck drivers often dismissed the aforementioned log as their “comic book.”
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There are no two ways about it; driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of large truck crashes in the United States. Even under ideal road conditions, semi truck trailers can be dangerous vehicles simply because of their size and weight. You see, the average tractor trailer truck can carry more than 40,000 pounds of cargo, let alone the mass of the truck, fuel and trailer. The average passenger vehicle, by comparison, only weighs 4,000 pounds — a deadly match-up in a collision. When truckers get too little sleep or spend too much time behind the wheel, the results can be disastrous. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, 30 to 40% of semi-truck related accidents are the result of driver fatigue.