Fatal Thursdays. It sounds like the title of a horror film. In many ways, it is a nightmare scenario on our roadways that reoccurs week after week. In the trucking industry, Thursdays are one of the deadliest days of the week for new and experienced drivers of 18-wheelers.
Has this startling statistic been brought to light to scare new prospects from the trucking industry and to give drivers a bad reputation? On the contrary, as truck drivers, you deserve to know all the information that’s available to keep you safer and alive while on the road.
The Biggest Crash Factors
Whether you’re starting out in the industry or have been behind the wheel for decades, the road can be a fascinating and challenging place to work. More often than not, when sharing the highway with other motorists, you may have a “now I’ve seen everything” moment. Some motorists are terrible drivers and are hazardous to everyone on the road.
As a driver, you may have made (or will make) a few mistakes of your own. Driver errors are a leading contributor to crashes but can be avoided. Ditching bad habits like tailgating or driving too fast can save your life.
You’ve learned everything you need to know how to drive safely, use that knowledge each and every time you get behind the wheel of your rig. Taking time to follow all protocol from your company and paying extra attention in an unfamiliar area, will not only keep you safer but will allow you to keep your job and commercial license.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), truck accidents are more likely to occur during the week, rather than the weekends, because more trucks are hauling freight. While some truckers are behind the wheel on the weekends, crashes that occur on a Friday or Saturday typically involve standard auto drivers who are distracted or intoxicated.
Depending on a steady income and a clean driving record, truckers rarely take the risk of driving while intoxicated. So why “Fatal Thursdays?” For the typical Monday through Friday truck driver, there’s a greater risk of feeling fatigued and the ability to stay alert or react quickly are less likely.
Fighting Off Fatigue
Preventing fatigue can be tricky sometimes but as a trucker, it’s essential that you know how to combat nodding off behind the wheel, regardless of the day of the week. Sitting long hours on the road can make you feel like you’re on auto-pilot. Recognizing the signs of fatigue are the first step in avoiding a preventable, fatal accident.
Yes, deadlines are important but stop pushing yourself. If you need to take a small break, take one. Drink water, do some stretches, close your eyes at a rest stop for 20 minutes. Self-care is essential if you plan on making trucking a lifelong career.
Don’t Ignore Mechanical Problems
In addition to driver errors and drowsiness, mechanical errors also play a big role in crashes involving a truck. Even though you may not be a mechanic, you need to understand the basics of your truck. Your rig is a hardworking machine and puts on many miles and hours a week so it’s only natural that the tires and brakes will wear down.
Work for a company that values your safety and will take the time to examine and fix your truck. If something doesn’t sound or feel right while you’re behind the wheel, you’re putting your life and many others at risk.
Where Are Roads The Deadliest?
If Thursdays are the deadliest, where are the deadliest roads and can they be avoided? More than half of fatal accidents involving a truck occur on major roads other than interstates or highways and about one-third occur on interstates and freeways.
Unfortunately, as a trucker, it’s difficult to avoid either type of road. Minimal maintenance and rural roads are never a good idea (and should be avoided as much as possible). They can slow down your time and may put you at greater risk for getting lost or having a hard time maneuvering your large truck.
Fatal Thursdays don’t have to continue to affect the trucking community. By improving company rules that focus on the safety of the drivers and improving training and continued education, this dismal day can become a thing of the past.