Tired truck drivers are dangerous truck drivers. So why does the nation’s commercial trucking industry continue to oppose rules that keep fatigued truck drivers off the road – even when testing proves them to be effective?
In December 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published updated hours-of-service rules for big-rig drivers. The new rules took full effect July 1, 2013. The biggest change was implementing a mandatory 34-hour restart break for truck drivers.
The restart provision requires all truckers must take a 34-hour break during the work week and most importantly, it must include two consecutive nighttime periods of rest between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., with additional time on either end to amount to 34 hours. For example, if a trucker stops driving at 7 p.m. Friday, to meet the new rule he or she cannot start again until 5 p.m. Sunday.
Ever since the rule was published, the trucking industry has been fighting it. But the FMCSA conducted a real-world field test of the new rule and found it to be very effective.
The FMCSA hired researchers to electronically monitor 106 truck drivers around the clock to measure sleep, reaction time and driving performance. The trucks were also monitored to collect a variety of important data, including speed, acceleration, lateral lane position, and distance traveled.
The findings, released January 30, 2014, showed that drivers who used one nighttime rest period compared to the new mandatory two-nights’ rest:
- were less attentive, especially at night
- were more sleepy, especially toward the end of their duty periods
- increasingly deviated from their lanes during all times of the day and night
A truck driver’s lack of sleep is just one reason for fatal accidents. Truck drivers distracted by cell phone use, or a poorly maintained truck or an improperly loaded truck are other factors. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a catastrophic trucking accident, an experienced attorney can conduct an investigation to uncover what and who is resp