Truck driver fatigue is a genuine problem. As the economy recovers and more goods are being shipped across America’s highways, there are more trucks needed to move those goods. And more trucks mean more drivers.
But the skills needed to driver a large semi-truck are not developed instantly, and a shortage of drivers means existing drivers are spending more time on the road.
Yes, federal regulations limit the number of hours a truck driver can operate his or her truck, but as the truck crash involving Tracy Morgan demonstrated, a driver can technically be “legally” safe, but he may not be actually safe.
In that accident, the driver was just under his 14-hour-per-day limit, but apparently, he told investigators that he had not slept for 24 hours prior to the crash. Given this background, it is remarkable that the trucking industry has introduced legislation to allow drivers to drive even longer hours.
The industry argues that it is safer for truck to operate late a night, when traffic is lightest, as that reduces truck accidents. The industry have been fighting the hours of service regulations for more than two decades, and show no sign if giving up.
They want to allow drivers to operate for up to 82 hours per week, meaning a driver could drive for almost 12 every day for a week. It is very hard to see how this will improve safety on the road
Driver fatigue is dangerous for all drivers, but given the industries record, more drivers driving longer hours late at night will like mean more truck accidents and more trucking fatalities.
Dailymail.co.uk, “How commercial trucking has become the ‘deadliest job in America’ due to driver fatigue and lax regulation leaving a wake of casualties,” Snejana Farberov and Associated Press, September 30, 2014