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
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
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
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
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
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?
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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.
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