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Are you a new professional driver or trucker? Watch for drowsy driving

by David Bruffett on 1/05/2019

Professional drivers are the backbone of American commerce. The job however, holds some particular risks especially for the new professional driver.

Staying Alert Critical for Commercial Drivers 

The importance of staying alert cannot be over emphasized. According to research, driving drowsy is as dangerous as driving drunk. That is why truckers have special limitations imposed on them with regard to how many hours they can drive in a given time period.

According to the New York State Department of Health, a driver of a commercial vehicle can drive up to 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. The driver may not drive past the 14th hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. The driver may not drive 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty, or any combination of the two.

Know the signs of drowsy driving:

  • yawning continually,
  • drifting from the lane, hitting the rumble strips,
  • trouble recalling the last few miles driven,
  • trouble keeping your eyes open or head up,
  • wandering thoughts,
  • making unusual mistakes; and,
  • tailgating.

If you are experiencing any of the above, stop driving and take a nap. The legal liability to the drowsy driver is too great to risk, especially when it can be avoided by something as simple as taking a nap.

The most effective way to stay alert is to have sufficient sleep before driving. Do not permit your employer to force you to drive past your comfort zone or the regulation. You are in charge when you are behind the wheel.

If you have any questions or concerns about this topic, please feel free to contact the author, David C. Bruffett, Jr., at (315) 364-1155. 

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