America’s increasing truck threat

This is perhaps the scariest thing you’ll hear about driving this month: the trucks on the road are causing more accidents, and more drivers are falling asleep at the wheel.

According to the Huffington Post, the number of truck-related deaths has been on the rise for years after hitting an all-time low in 2009 due to the poor economy.

Thanks in part to Congress easing of regulations on the industry, truck drivers are getting pushed harder and harder, with steeper demands for the distances they have to drive and the amount of time they spend driving it.

Now, drivers are driving longer hauls, and they’re carrying more weight, which means if the driver falls asleep at the wheel, the truck is that much heavier and that much deadlier to the rest of us.

Another issue, amazing as it may sound, is sleep apnea. That’s where a person has interrupted breathing when asleep. Such issues can be slight and may just result in a little snoring, but it can also mean people aren’t getting a good night’s sleep, and that can mean those people are more tired the next day, and the next, onward forever. For the average person, this isn’t that big of a deal. It’s a health risk and needs to get checked out, but it isn’t putting anyone in danger. If someone with sleep apnea falls asleep at his or her desk, only his or her boss is particularly annoyed about it. Perhaps a deadline gets missed or a meeting. It is not the end of the world.

When truck drivers or others in the transportation industry fall asleep at the job, however, the results can be the end of the world, at least for somebody.

The combination of sleep issues and more hours for truck drivers means more and more drivers are getting sloppier in their driving. They are being rushed, and they are exhausted. If you have ever tried to drive a long shift of more than a few hours after a rough night of sleep, you know how unsteady you can feel at the wheel. Most of us simply pull over for a little and catch up on some rest. But what if pulling over and resting meant you’d lose your job?

It’s no wonder, with these issues playing out on America’s streets, that there are so many lawsuits against truck drivers for accidents they are responsible for. In some ways, this is upsetting on the driver’s behalf. While everyone is responsible for their actions, employers are pushing drivers so hard put them in very difficult positions, in which, as stated above, a driver may have to choose between driving unsafely and losing his or her job.

Our best hope now is for Congress to reverse its recent policies and make stricter restrictions on how much drivers can drive. There have also been proposals made for drivers to be required to be tested for sleep apnea, and then to receive treatment if they are discovered to suffer from it.

At the moment, though, there’s little else that can be done but to hope for such future changes.

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