Truck drivers in Alabama work hard to earn a living, but their occupation can place demands on them that produce traffic hazards. The long hours that many drivers work puts them at great risk for truck driver fatigue that causes drowsy driving. Federal regulations address the risk somewhat by only allowing a maximum of 11 consecutive hours behind the wheel if preceded by 10 hours off duty. However, it is not too hard to imagine a trucker becoming exhausted during an 11-hour shift. Worse yet, many individual drivers feel compelled to push themselves to the limit, or even ignore regulations, because their income depends on it.
Pay-by-the mile and delivery deadlines
Many freight companies issue contracts that pay truck drivers for the miles they travel instead of hours worked. This structure creates an incentive to cover as many miles as possible in the shortest amount of time. Under those circumstances, a driver might choose to speed or skip breaks.
Regardless of how pay is determined, truck drivers sometimes work under intense deadlines. Perishable cargo must be transported with urgency, or all parties involved risk a total loss. Contractual obligations to meet deadlines also create financial incentives to sacrifice safety considerations despite the legal duty owed to accident victims.
Drowsy driving is similar to intoxication
When your body needs sleep, your mind slows down and cannot process information quickly, if at all. Researchers have found that going without sleep for 24 hours reduces mental and physical reactions similarly to having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10, which is more than enough to get arrested. Fatigued truck drivers may not notice changes in traffic or road conditions. They might see an exit too late and swerve or nod off and drift out of their lanes.