It was after midnight. The driver had made the long haul to El Paso, unloaded his rig, and was attempting to get back to Lubbock that same night. The trip had been hard and he wanted to wake up in his own bed. But as the hours went by, he found himself yawning and the lines on the road seemed blurry. He turned up the radio and opened his window hoping the combination might revive him. For a few minutes, he felt more alert but soon his head was bobbing and his eyes began to close. Still, in another hour, he’d be home. After coming so far, what sense would it make to stop now?
He didn’t remember closing his eyes. What he did remember was being awakened by the sound of the cab ramming into the guardrail. He tried to steer out of it but over-corrected and the vehicle flipped on its side and rolled. It came to a stop when it smashed against the pillar of an overpass.
The driver suffered severe head trauma, a broken back and a shattered leg. He was hospitalized for two months and continues to receive weekly rehabilitation treatments. Walking remains difficult and he has never returned to work.
It’s a story that might have ended differently. The stretch of highway the truck traveled is lined with motels and rest stops. The driver could have stopped at any number of places, rested and continued home early the next morning. Nothing pushed him to keep moving except a desire to cover a few more miles.
- Set limits on the number of miles/hours a driver can travel in a single shift.
- Mandate that your drivers take regular breaks when traveling longer distances.
- Limit the number of miles you drive in a day and stop when you’re tired
- Get a full night’s rest before getting behind the wheel.
- Take care of family issues early so the driver can get a full night’s sleep before starting a trip.
- Never pressure a driver to make it home late at night. Encourage them to stop and continue the next day.