For 15 years our Federal government debated the implementation of a rule that every adult driver knows to be sensible...placing a reasonable cap on the number of hours a long haul truck driver can spend behind the wheel. Finally, last year the Federal government implemented a 70 hour work restriction with other rest requirements, including a 34 hour rest period. This legislation was likely passed in response to the four consecutive years of record setting deaths caused by commercial trucking crashes. Last year, truck crashes involving fatigued truck drivers caused just short of 4,000 deaths nationwide.
However, now it seems that Congress is about to relax the rules to benefit the trucking industry by reverting back to an 82-hour work week for commercial truckers. Public safety advocacy groups see this reversion as Congress giving in to pressure from the trucking industry lobbyists. Unfortunately, safety will once again take a backseat to corporate profits.
There are no sleep studies or driver reaction studies that support the proposition that a long-haul trucker in an 80,000 pound vehicle has any business driving 82 hours in a week. In fact, the current 70-hour restriction is viewed by safety experts as too much service time for fatigued truck drivers.
The trucking industry claims that the new laws are too restrictive on nighttime driving and force more trucks on the road during daytime hours, thereby adding to rush hour traffic. However, the industry's own data shows that less than 15% of truckers are maxing out their hours with the current caps. Accordingly, the severity of rush hour traffic has little bearing on Congress' motive to increase the caps. Allowing already fatigued truck drivers to ramp up to 82 hours of weekly service compromises public safety for the benefit of corporate profit.
At Anderson Hemmat, we view the new legislation for the trucking industry as a step back for public safety. Fatigued truck drivers pose a serious threat to other drivers on the road. The rules and regulations promulgated by our government should prioritize safety over corporate profit. If you have been injured in a crash with a truck driver, please call (303) 782-9999 and speak with one our trucking accident attorneys today.