Driving a large commercial truck is no easy task. It is taxing on the body to be sitting for hour after hour and it can be hard to continue to pay attention as mile after mile after mile of road pass by. The long hours behind the wheel, combined with the monotony of the job can make even the best truck driver tired.

The problem is that this is dangerous. Not only for the truck driver, but for anyone else who happens to also be out on the road.

Here are three things you should know about tired truck drivers:

No. 1: Tired drivers cause accidents

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a study and found that fatigue was a “critical factor” in 13 percent of all trucking accidents. A “critical factor” means that if the truck driver had not been tired, the accident most likely would not have happened.

Let this sink in for a moment: If the truck driver behind the wheel of a large commercial vehicle – weighing thousands of pounds – had been more well-rested, these accidents would have most likely never even happened in the first place. This means countless accidents, injuries – and one could even say deaths – could have been avoided by the truck driver simply getting more – or better — sleep.

No. 2: The only real solution to fatigue is sleep

Truck drivers know it’s dangerous to drive tired. However, these drivers are often under an incredible amount of pressure to continue driving. This means that when they start to feel tired, many will try things like drinking more caffeine – or even using illegal drugs – to try to stay awake.

Other tricks of the trade include turning up the music, rolling down the windows or putting the air conditioner on. The problem is that none of these things will actually help wake a person up. For someone who is truly sleep deprived and tired, these things will give them a sudden burst of energy, but this will only last a few minutes. The only real solution to fatigue is sleep.  

No. 3: Trucking companies often play a role

It’s unfortunate, but true: Many trucking companies are the ones putting the pressure on their drivers to drive while they are tired. Sure – the companies may not be coming right out and saying this – but their pay structure and expectations leave the drivers feeling like they have no other choice but to drive when they are tired.  

In the end, it’s not just the truck drivers who pay for driving tired, but it’s also the innocent people who suffer after getting into accidents with these large commercial trucks. And while the government has stepped in and tightened up regulations around maximum driving times and minimum break allowances, accidents still unfortunately continue to happen.