Driver Fatigue is not Solved with Reduced Driving Hours

Although I am writing this editorial, the original ideas came from magicMitch. He told me his views on this subject, and I agree with his reasoning. Right now, today, the Government is considering reduced operating hours for the entire trucking industry, in order to reduce driver fatigue. We disagree, and from all outward indications, the entire trucking industry vehemently disagrees also. So here is our alternate solution to the problem:

The Problem is Changing Sleep Patterns

The biggest factor affecting truck driver fatigue today is the continuous changes in the driver's sleep patterns. There are many scientific studies which demonstrate that switching a person's sleep cycle to differing periods of the day, have very negative influence upon fatigue for that person.

As you well know, traffic is extremely heavy in and near cities during the rush hour. Many truck drivers prefer to drive at night when the highways are less crowded, and fewer automobiles are on the road. They prefer to sleep during the early morning rush hour or during the afternoon rush hour. So basically, many truck drivers drive at night and sleep during the day; that is, until it is time to get loaded or unloaded.

The loading docks will only do business during normal business hours, and the truck driver must be awake during the load or unload process. This forces a disruption of the truck driver's normal pattern of sleep during the day. The driver has two options after getting loaded or unloaded. He/she either ties to sleep an altered sleep pattern, or he/she contributes to the day time traffic, and inches their way out of town without sleep. In either case, the driver must now face fatigue due to lack of sleep, or poor quality sleep due to the altered sleep pattern.

Loading Docks Open Afternoon & Evenings

If the United States Government really wants to reduce truck driver fatigue on the highway, then they should help to change the trucking industry so that it becomes more efficient, saves fuel consumption, and improves the driver's sleep patterns. The only way to achieve this is to provide incentives for loading docks to establish mid-day and evening loading hours. Once this becomes the norm, it is natural to suspect that the majority of truck drivers and trucking companies would adopt the night driving concept. Both the drivers and the trucking companies would discover significant efficiency increases and cost savings when driving outside of normal rush hour traffic. And the automobile traffic will be relieved by the absence of those trucks during the rush hour.

The trucks could deliver their loads right after the lunch hour, or right after the evening rush hour. This would keep the trucks off the city roads during rush hour, and would allow the trucks to operate more efficiently because they would not be grid-locked in rush hour traffic.

Another benefit to this plan is that all the trucks would not want to get unloaded at the same time. With the current situation, the trucker wants to be first to get unloaded, so he/she can possible get a new load, or just get out of town before the late afternoon rush hour begins. So they all pile up at the loading dock, and create their own grid-lock at the loading dock in the morning. With the evening unloading option, many of the truckers could arrive in the evening, right after the rush hour traffic, and not have to fight traffic after unloading. By distributing the loading dock activity throughout the afternoon and evening, the loading docks could be manned more efficiently, and the loading dock resources would be less peak stressed than they are now.

Additional Benefits to the Nation

Lets look at the rush hour traffic problem first. For a truck driver to get unloaded first thing in the morning, he/she has to be there when the loading docks open. In other words, the interstate truck adds to the rush hour traffic because they too must arrive at about the same time as the people going to work. Do you think you could convince Joe Public that getting the trucks off the road during rush hour would be a good thing? Of course you could! Joe public would jump at the opportunity to reduce the rush hour traffic. Would the truck drivers like to be off the road during rush hour traffic? Of course they would. They can't make any progress, while stalled in rush hour traffic!

Emissions Problem Reduced

Lets look at the emissions problem. When does a vehicle have the most emissions? When it is idling is stalled traffic and going no where, or when it is operating at the speed which the engineers selected as the optimum operating range for reduced emissions? The answer is pretty obvious. Just getting the trucks out of the rush hour traffic would in itself, decrease their overall emissions into our atmosphere. Doesn't this support the goal of many cities, to reduce their emissions problems?

Fuel Consumption & Foreign Oil Dependence Reduced

When does a vehicle get the best fuel economy, while idling in stalled traffic and going no where, or when cruising down the road at optimum cruise speed? I think this answer is also pretty obvious. Moving the trucks out of the rush hour traffic would have a profound impact upon increased miles per gallon for fuel consumption. Isn't this in line with the Nation's objective to reduce foreign oil dependence?

More Profit to Keep the Trucking Industry Solvent

Today most of truck operating expenses are climbing and reducing the trucking industry profits. Getting the trucks out of the rush hour traffic will enable the trucks to generate more revenue per hour of operation, which will help to offset the rising operating costs of the trucking industry. This improved revenue will help to ensure that the trucking industry remains sound and intact into the future. America can not sustain itself if the trucking industry fails. If the trucking industry can not return a profit to its investors, it will surely fail!.

Combined Effect Equals Significant Results

Assume for the moment that we get a significant number of trucks off the highways during rush hour traffic, because the loading docks have changed their hours to include 1:00 PM through 11:00 PM. What effect will that have? Well, first of all, the truck drivers will maintain a consistent sleep pattern, which will result in safer highways. The traffic space previously taken by trucks is now available to allow more cars per unit of time. This will relieve the rush hour traffic gridlock for the remaining vehicles. Since grid-locks will be reduced, idle emissions will also be reduced. And, with gridlock reduced, the miles per gallon fuel efficiency of the rush hour traffic will increase. If America consumes less fuel, this is good for reducing our dependence upon foreign oil supplies. And don't forget, if the trucking industry remains solvent, then the American way of distributing products and goods will continue into the future.

Where are the Politics with This Plan?

The politics of this plan are nowhere because no one has thought of this solution, except for magicMitch, and none of the politicians are listening to him right now.

Perhaps you could change that. What politician wouldn't like a plan which reduces truck driver fatigue thereby increasing national highway safety, reduces the Nation's foreign oil dependency, reduces gridlock rush hour traffic jams, and also reduces rush hour emissions pollution?

E-mail this and make a difference NOW!

You could make a difference, and we will help. Just copy the paragraph below, then click on senators listed by state , or click on congressman listed by state. Most of them provide form-mail so that you can e-mail them by filling in their form with your browser. Others require that you use the e-mail feature of your browser to send them e-mail. Either way, just paste this into the message that you wish to send. When writing to these people, remember, they are over protected by law. Do NOT make threats or use abusive language, or the long arm of the law may reach out and touch you in an unexpected way.

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Reducing truck driver operating hours will not solve the truck driver fatigue issues which the Government is currently evaluating. A better solution is to improve the truck driver sleep pattern, which will significantly reduce truck driver fatigue. TruckTroubles dot Com has an editorial which proposes improved truck driver alertness, reduced rush hour traffic jams, improved vehicle fuel efficiency, reduced vehicle emissions, and reduced American dependence upon foreign oil. Click here to read that short editorial. http://www.truckt.com/drivinghours.htm

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