MORE THAN JUST FATIGUE
Linda Longton’s July Viewpoint article “A catalyst for change” says pretty much what I would say at any given time, and it has been said in many ways for many years.
I am 65 and have seen this subject taken apart by just about everyone who has anything to do with trucking.
You are absolutely right when you say that the powers that be are missing the big picture. Fatigue is just a part of the safety equation, but it is the easiest one to bring up and blame for almost everything that happens. There are thousands of fatigued drivers on the road at any hour, but very few are involved in accidents that could be attributed to fatigue alone. The large majority of accidents involving trucks have multiple causes.
For example, a driver might get a good rest break and be completely legal to continue on his trip, but the interstate he was on before his break might have been very rough, and so after his break, he is right back on the same bone-rattling ride. Before long, he feels like he did before the break, but there is a long time before the next break. That type of body punishment takes away attention from everything else.
And that is only one of a myriad of things that affect a driver’s ability to remain completely alert. Pressures of all kinds can cause an otherwise rested driver to be an accident in the making.
If the true reasons behind an accident are to be determined, there needs much more investigation into the prior schedules and maybe the lifestyles of the people involved. Many things could be mistaken for fatigue but in actuality are underlying problems that are not apparent to the normal accident investigation.
PLEASE FORGIVE ME
I owe the trucking industry one big apology. It seems that too many people want to place the blame on the truckers for their bad driving habits. I was one of those, but after spending time on the road with my trucker boyfriend, I had the chance to see it from the trucker’s perspective. It was terrible to see drivers try to cut us off and expect an 80,000-pound vehicle to stop to keep from hitting them.
To all you men and women on the road who work during all sorts of weather and drive those trucks, keep up the good work and accept my apology.