Preventing Livestock Transportation Accidents

Livestock are being transported on our highways daily and accidents are dangerous; there can be loose, injured or dead animals on a road or highway, in addition to human injury or death involving multiple vehicles.  Though traffic accidents involving livestock are inevitable, they can be reduced through knowledge and education.

Though most people expect bad weather to be the main cause, studies have found that driver fatigue is the leading cause of rollover accidents involving livestock trucks.

Luckily for truck drivers in the United States, there are many training courses that discuss how to prevent fatigue, as well as how to maintain trucks, how to avoid driving distractions and how to drive safely.

Fatigue is caused by poor sleep patterns, poor health factors, conflict of the body clock and long work hours.  Some techniques for truck drivers to prevent fatigue is to maintain a regular sleep schedule even on days off, be sure to get enough sleep every day, take power naps when able to do so between 15 and 40 minutes long, pull over if you feel too tired to drive and take frequent breaks about every two hours to stop and stretch.  Signs of fatigue for truck drivers include: eyes going out of focus or not staying open, drifting over center or shoulder line, thoughts wandering, missing road signs or exits, seeing things that aren’t there, reflexes beginning to slow and not remembering passing certain landmarks or towns.

In addition to preventing fatigue, drivers must monitor and adjust speed for current road, traffic or weather conditions.  Vehicle maintenance is also important when transporting livestock; drivers must always inspect the tractor and trailer before leaving on their trip and make sure there are no mechanical or structural issues that need to be repaired.

There are specific ways to safely load livestock onto trailers to help prevent accidents.  Drivers must be diligent in loading the trailer so the weight is equally distributed to prevent it from becoming top heavy.  Even if there is a split load where drivers drop off part of the load at one stop, animals must be moved in order to redistribute the weight properly.  Drivers must be careful to not take sharp turns to help prevent load shifting, and to close compartment gates to keep animals stationary within the trailer.  Studies show that trailers loaded with cattle rarely exceed five degrees before rolling over, which is an example of why it’s important to safely load livestock trailers.

Livestock transportation accidents can be reduced with training, education, research and awareness.