Summit Aims to Combat Truck Driver Fatigue.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, a staggering 37% of adults are so sleepy during the day that it significantly interferes with activities such as driving. This of course affects professional drivers ten fold in commercial vehicle operations by what is dubbed as truck driver fatigue.

The around the clock demand on commercial truck drivers to make delivery time deadlines, rolling warehouse logistics and poorly scheduled or covered back to back shifts all contribute to truck driver fatigue.

Many trucking groups tend to downplay the statistical incidences of truck driver fatigue as only a minor problem responsible for just 2% of fatal truck incidents. This is a drastically inaccurate number, the downplaying of such factors an issue in itself. Sleep experts around the world all agree that truck driver fatigue is one of the largest problems in the cause of fatal road accidents.

In 1995 the first summit was called in Kansas City, Missouri to address National Truck and Bus Safety, this was a monumental breakthrough in taking truck driver fatigue seriously.

Safety advocates, trucking industry representatives and researchers met along with government to discuss their goals in developing a list of the most dire safety issues facing the trucking industry. The list determined would be used as a guide to regulate research and training efforts in the reduction of fatalities and injuries caused by truck accidents.

The Summit went on several days with many speeches, workshops and meetings. In the end, a list of 17 safety issues was developed and ranked in order of priority. Coming in the number one spot was truck driver fatigue.

Since the first Summit, more important emphasis has been put on the issue, translating into truck driver fatigue training videos being offered by all training suppliers in the industry, as well as plenty of new research projects. A “train the trainer” program was implemented, as well as ongoing advancements in preventative technology such as algorithms and wearable accessories to help detect the symptoms of a driver verging on truck driver fatigue.

After the initial Summit, the Department of Transport announced (in 1999) a goal of reducing truck-crash fatalities by 50% in ten years. The challenge continues in determining whether a driver involved in a crash is suffering from truck driver fatigue out of the more than 5,000 fatalities each year in truck accidents.

Because there is still no acceptable protocol in identifying causes there is still a problem in investigations, there aren’t accurate numbers representing what percentage of crashes are contributed or caused by truck driver fatigue. Ongoing developments continue to better measure the impact, though it is indisputable that truck driver fatigue is a significant cause of many fatal crashes.