According to a new study from Monash University, overnight and early morning long-haul trucking has a higher rate of accidents when compared with trucking deliveries during regular business hours. The researchers in the study believe that if fewer trips and deliveries were scheduled in the early morning, there may be fewer collisions.
The study found that truck drivers who work for more than three hours during the night have a similar risk of accidents as drivers who are driving under the influence. Drivers who do not use cruise control, anti-lock braking systems, and other technology on their overnight drives are at an even higher risk of a collision, as are drivers with less driving experience.
To reach these conclusions, researchers spoke with 517 truck drivers who had not been in an accident between 2008 and 2011 and also spoke with 530 truck drivers who had been in a collision during the same time period. Based on these interviews, researchers found that truck drivers who were on the road between midnight and six in the morning had a threefold chance of being in an accident when compared with drivers who drove between 6 in the morning and noon. When a truck driver had not taken any rest for over four hours, the risk of a collision was twice as high.
Unfortunately, overnight driving is standard in the trucking industry, and according to sleep experts this may be contributing to trucking accidents in Hollywood and other communities. Even when truck drivers sleep before driving overnight, they may feel fatigued on overnight shifts. Other studies of shift work in other industries seem to back this up. A number of studies have shown that workers who take on shift work and overnight work have higher risks of work injury in Hollywood and other cities. Part of the problem is that working outside of regular hours fights the body’s natural circadian rhythm. Even when truck drivers and workers get adequate hours of sleep, the type of sleep they get during the day after working at night may be of a lower quality.
Fatigued driving in Hollywood and other communities has long been linked to car and trucking accidents, but it is more difficult to decide how to address the issue. The trucking industry relies on long-haul drivers to make early-morning deliveries. Customers demand on-time deliveries on tight schedules, and that can mean workers being on the road until late at night. Hours of service rules require truckers to take a certain amount of rest when driving, but they do not and cannot regulate or control the quality of sleep and rest that truck drivers get. In the future, driverless trucks and other technology may help reduce or even eliminate the dangers of fatigued driving. In the meantime, however, solutions need to be found to address the problem.