Are long trucker commutes endangering the public?

In a state as large as Texas, sharing the road with commercial trucks and vehicles is a way of life. Truckers these days have tough jobs, however, with many of them facing tight schedules, minimal sleep, inclement weather and other hazards. To alleviate some of the stress, some truckers turn to substance abuse, while others try to adhere to tight timelines by eating behind the wheel and engaging in similar distracted driving behaviors.

While such behaviors can pose a danger to motorists, there are other factors at work that may affect your safety, and one of those factors is a long trucker commute.

The dangers of lengthy commutes

Nowadays, the growing lack of available jobs combined with the high cost of housing in many urban areas is forcing many truckers to live far away from their jobs. Increasingly, semi-truck drivers are engaging in long commutes before they even clock in for the workday, with “long” referring to any commute that lasts longer than 150 minutes.

Exactly how does this endanger the general public? First, it cuts into and compromises truckers’ off-duty hours, which drivers typically use to rest, recharge their batteries, and spend time with their families and loved ones. The more time they spend commuting to work, the less time they have to rest and recharge, which leads to trucker exhaustion and fatigue, both of which affect driving ability.

When truckers drive while fatigued, they tend to have slower reaction times, meaning they may not be able to brake, swerve or otherwise work to avoid an accident or road hazard. They may also turn to stimulants and other substances to help them stay awake and cover considerable distances, which can also endanger you and others on the road. Truckers with long commutes are also statistically less healthy than those with shorter ones, meaning they are more likely to have heart and health issues that could potentially affect them behind the wheel.

Sharing the road with commercial trucks is largely unavoidable, but being cautious and remaining vigilant while traveling near them may help enhance your own safety.