Most Americans recognize that there are inherent risks involved with sharing the road with commercial truckers due in part to the sheer size and weight of these vehicles. When truck drivers engage in substance abuse, alcohol abuse or distracted driving behaviors, the risks become even more pronounced, but safety advocates believe there is a new factor affecting today’s truckers and their driving abilities: long commutes.
Long trucker commutes, which are those that last in excess of 150 minutes, are placing a strain on truckers at increasing rates.
Why trucker commutes are lengthening
In many parts of the country, housing costs continue to escalate, and the high cost of housing is forcing many truckers to live in more rural areas and commute into the cities where trucking companies are often based. The number of truckers in the industry has also increased in recent years, adding to the housing crunch and the number of truckers living far outside their trucking company headquarters.
Consequences of long commutes
When truckers spend hours behind the wheel before they even clock in for a shift, they are more likely to be overtired and unhealthy. Why? Many Americans already suffer from a lack of adequate leisure time for sleeping, spending time with family and so on, and long trucker commutes only exacerbate this problem. To make up for time lost with their families, semi-truck drivers often sacrifice sleep, and when truck drivers drive fatigued, it affects their driving ability and reaction time, endangering you and anyone else who crosses their path.
Long commutes also impact truckers’ ability to exercise, and drivers with especially long commutes are more likely to have heart problems, more likely to suffer from obesity and more likely to experience high blood pressure. When truckers are unhealthy, the odds increase that they might suffer some type of medical episode behind the wheel, which can again endanger other motorists.
While the extent of the danger posed by long trucker commutes is not yet clear, it concerns the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enough to recommend additional studies on the issue.