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Are Truck Drivers Sleep Deprived or Sleep Deficient?

Virtually all adults have slept poorly at one time or another. Occasional sleepless nights are just a part of being human. Unfortunately, though, even after sleeping badly, many people have no choice but to forge ahead the following day with work and routine responsibilities. Many of us know how awful it can feel to try and function when we’re operating in a state of sleep deprivation. We trudge along, hoping the day will end sooner than later so that we can finally rest.

But functioning while sleep deprived or sleep deficient is more dangerous for some workers than others. Certainly, a teacher, accountant, or banker could make important mistakes, but they are probably not deadly. On the other hand, mistakes made by an exhausted pilot, semi-truck driver, or person operating heavy machinery can cause unbelievable injury, death, and destruction. In this article, we will focus on sleep issues as they pertain to semi-truck drivers.

What Are “Sleep Deprivation” and “Sleep Deficiency”?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines “sleep deprivation” simply as the condition that occurs if you get too little sleep. The term “sleep deficiency” is broader and includes sleep deprivation or any one of the following:

  • Getting insufficient sleep or poor-quality sleep because of a sleep disorder;
  • Not sleeping well or not getting all types of sleep needed; or
  • Sleeping during the wrong time of day. The body is then out of sync with its natural clock.

Truck Drivers and Sleep Deficiency

If you travel often by automobile, there’s one thing you probably have noticed: there are always semi-trucks on the road. You see them at all times of the day and night and any place you drive. Obviously, many tractor-trailers and other large truck drivers are not keeping normal hours. In fact, truckers are sometimes known to say: “Drive when you have to, sleep when you can.”

One trucker notes honestly that many truck drivers really don’t even have a sleep pattern. This is understandable, given the fact that commerce never stops, the varying needs of customers, the timing of deliveries, and the effects of hours of service and other trucking regulations.

The Effects of Sleep Deficiency on the Body

Unfortunately, sleep deficiency has negative effects on the body, and can include the following:

  • Lack of concentration
  • Reduced ability to solve problems
  • Increased risk of accidents, including while driving
  • Negative impact on memory
  • Decreases in physical and emotional health

We have discussed drowsy driving before, and these effects are real. In the past, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has suggested that lack of sleep may be a factor in more than 30 percent of truck crashes. Take a moment and do a quick internet search and you can find articles discussing semi-truck crashes all over the country in which it was determined that a truck driver fell asleep. Almost all of us know what it feels like to drive while drowsy. Just imagine doing it with 80,000 pounds under your control.

Call with Questions

Truck drivers have to deal with some tough issues to make a living. But they also owe a duty to society to help protect the motoring public by driving safely. Driving with sleep deficiency is dangerous and can result in horrific injuries and death. If you’ve been injured in an accident with a semi-truck or any other vehicle, you likely have questions about how you should proceed.

At Nelson MacNeil Rayfield, our experienced Oregon truck accident lawyers know the answers and will be happy to share them with you in a free consultation. We know that the only way to make the roads safe for all of us is to hold wrongdoers accountable for their actions.