Trucking Industry at Odds with American Public over Tired Truck Drivers

It appears the trucking industry is at odds with the American public over the dangers of tired truckers.

Rules to Get Tired Truck Drivers Off the Road

A new Hours of Service federal regulation was passed that applies to many drivers of trucks and commercial vehicles. The set of rules, which went into effect July 2013, states:

  • Truck drivers can drive a maximum of 70 hours per week; down from 82 hours
  • To reach the 70-hour weekly maximum, a truck driver must rest for 34 consecutive hours, including two nights from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Truck drivers must take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a workday

The reason for reducing the number of hours a truck driver can work each week is to get drowsy truck drivers off the road. Most truck drivers are paid by the mile. The more miles they log, the more pay they take home. So there’s an incentive for truck drivers to be on the road for as long as possible.

Unfortunately, tired truck drivers are dangerous truck drivers. This is true for drivers of passenger cars as well. The difference is the enormous size of the big rigs tired truckers are controlling. Many of the trucks weigh over 5 tons, and some are carrying hazardous cargo. They don’t stop easily or quickly in good weather or bad.

The federal Hours of Service rules were passed over the objections of the trucking industry. Even after they were implemented, trucking concerns kept working for repeal. And it may have worked. A pending U.S. Senate bill would suspend the 34-hour break and other provisions.

Majority Want Shorter Trucker Work Week

A new poll by Lake Research Partners asked the public what it thinks of this development. An overwhelming 80 percent of those surveyed oppose any legislation to increase the number of hours a truck driver can work each week. (Those polled included Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, and were about evenly split male and female.)

Representatives of the U.S. trucking industry expressed their disagreement with the poll’s findings. But that shouldn’t be surprising given the industry’s strong opposition to the Hours of Service rules to begin with, and its long-standing disdain for many measures designed to protect the public from fatal trucking accidents.

A competing Senate amendment that would nullify any proposed roll-backs to the Hours of Service rules is also pending.

Whether or not Congress holds negligent truckers and trucking companies responsible for the deadly accidents they cause, attorneys who investigate trucking accidents will continue to do so by pursuing financial compensation for victims and their families.

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