It is well known that delivery deadlines often put pressure on truck drivers to drive, rather than doze. Truck drivers often skimp on sleep, chug a cup of coffee, knock back some caffeine supplements and continue driving in order to make a delivery deadline.
On average, 4,300 deaths per year occur involving commercial trucks. One third of those accidents are a result of truck drivers falling asleep at the wheel. We live in a rather technologically resourceful age, so naturally, certain devices and applications exist that are supposed to keep drivers alert. However, just because these devices exist does not mean car drivers are safe from truck driver error.
What Devices and Apps Are Available to Truck Drivers to Stay Awake?
There is a phone app available called Drowsy Driver that focuses on the driver’s eyes and detects if the eyes are open or closed. If the driver closes their eyes, an alarm sounds to sharply wake them up. In addition to the app, commercial truck driving companies can opt to install a collision warning system (CWS) that monitors speed and will push the breaks if a truck driver accidentally starts to drift off. There is also an earpiece available called the Nap-Zapper that sounds an alarm if the driver’s head tilts a certain amount.
Arguably, the most advanced gadget is Onguard’s alarm system that uses radar detection devices installed on the bumper of the truck. This system detects objects on the road, the distance between other cars in front of the truck and the trucks centering between lanes. This way, if an object is obstructing the road, the truck driver gets too close to the car in front of it or the truck swerves, an alarm will sharply sound to let the driver know to take the appropriate action.
Do Anti-Sleep Gadgets Work?
According to Motherboard’s article, truck drivers agree that no matter which anti-sleep system is recommended by their company, none of the apps or devices really work as well as the companies advocate they do. One truck driver, whose company installed Onguard into its trucks, said the system only worked when the driver had cruise control active. According to the driver, this made using the system in snow or rain even more dangerous because if the breaks activated, the truck would likely slide.
No matter which device is installed in the truck, it won’t stop truck drivers from traveling in an exhausted state, which seems to be the root of the problem. The state needs to be stricter with enforcement of rest times in order to prevent drivers from skimping on the mandatory amount of sleep between each drive.