Drowsy driving is a risk for oil tankers on and off land

On Behalf of | Sep 2, 2021 | Maritime Law |

Drowsy driving is a problem that many truck drivers face. It can also be problematic for oil tanker captains at sea. They’re asked to work long hours, and they may spend much of that time on the road or on the sea. It’s normal for someone to start to doze off or daydream when they’re inactive for long periods of time, but doing that while driving either kind of tanker could put someone’s life at risk.

Drowsy driving on land cost 697 people their lives in 2019, which just shows how deadly it can be. Oil tanker crashes at sea result in spills and injuries, as well. Fortunately, these issues are completely preventable. As a truck driver or boat captain in the oil industry, you can take steps to avoid drowsy driving such as:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Sticking to the regulations for your allowed hours of service
  • Eating healthy meals at regular intervals
  • Getting a medical exam to look for sleep apnea and other medical conditions

If an employer is pushing them to work more than they should, then they should speak out. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has strict Hours of Service (HOS) regulations that truck drivers need to follow. If they’re asked not to follow those or to change your logs, then they need to report the employer’s behavior for their safety and the safety of others around them. As for vessels at sea, captains need to get rest whenever they have the opportunity.

How long can an oil tanker driver be behind the wheel?

If you drive a property-carrying truck, then you can drive up to 11 hours after 10 hours off duty. Drivers’ work days can be as long as 14 hours, but this is to include off-duty time, such as a 30-minute driving break or any work done outside the vehicle.

For captains, there is no specific limit, but they do need to get rest at any time they can, such as when the sea is calm or a chief officer is available to assist.

Whether you’re on the water or on land, you need to be cautious. If you’re hurt doing your job, then you may be able to collect compensation.