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Driver fatigue: A real risk to everyone on the roads

When a truck driver is behind the wheel, it's of the utmost importance that he or she is alert and well-rested. If the individual hasn't had enough sleep, he or she could make poor decisions that lead to a crash.

Some of the symptoms of driver fatigue that impact the ability to drive include zoning out, which is when you're not focusing on the road, daydreaming and trouble focusing. Other outward signs could include head nodding, drifting in or out of your lane or actually falling asleep behind the wheel.

What causes driver fatigue?

Driver fatigue is most likely to occur when drivers don't get enough sleep. When a person doesn't get enough sleep, he or she develops a "sleep debt." Until he or she gets enough sleep to make up that debt, drowsiness is likely.

A lack of quality sleep can also lead to drowsiness. For instance, if a person has an upset stomach all night, they may sleep restlessly and by unfit to drive the following day.

What is micro-sleep?

When a driver's body needs sleep and cannot wait, it may lapse into micro-sleep. This is a short span of sleep that lasts only seconds, but it's long enough to cause a collision. Usually, micro-sleep ends up causing single-vehicle collisions because the driver drifts off the road or hits another object. Sometimes, the driver doesn't stop in time to avoid a crash or leaves his or her lane and hits another vehicle.

Driver fatigue can be deadly. It's important for drivers to pull over and avoid driving when they're too tired, no matter what the circumstances are. Our website has more on what you can do if you're hit by a commercial driver who didn't get enough sleep.

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