Tired Truckers Pose Danger on Roadways

By: Lynn Fugaro

Annually in the United States, over 5,000 people are killed and nearly 150,000 are injured in trucking accidents on our nation's highways. One in four passenger vehicle deaths in multiple-vehicle crashes involve a large truck; large trucks are involved in multiple-vehicle fatal crashes twice as often as passenger vehicles. When truck drivers become fatigued from excessive daily and weekly work hours, they substantially increase the risk of crashes that result in injury or death. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that approximately 750 people die each year due to fatigued commercial truck drivers. Approximately 20,000 people, in our country each year are injured due to truck driver fatigue. For this reason, the FMCSA recently proposed a rule change regarding the number of hours a trucker can drive without a break.

The current rule allows drivers to operate a truck or bus no more than 10 consecutive hours before resting for a minimum of 8 hours. This current rule allows drivers to spend 16 hours driving in a 24-hour period. The new rule proposes a rotating schedule of work and rest based on a 24-hour period instead of an 18 hour period, requiring longer rest periods for drivers. The new rule would require drivers to rest between 9-12 continuous hours each day.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Safety is promoted by:

?Requiring longer rest periods for truck drivers. If there is any interruption in the off-duty time of the driver by dispatchers or other personnel, the driver gets to re-start the off-duty period.
?Electric On-Board Records (EOBR) will be required in long-haul vehicles and in regional drivers. These devices are tamper-proof and can monitor actual daily and weekly driving time.
?Drivers must take 2-3 hours of breaks in addition to the required 9-12 hour off-duty period.
?Drivers are limited to a 60-hour work week. Upon reaching the maximum, drivers must have an off-duty period encompassing at least 2 successive nights.

The proposed new rule contributes to driver fatigue by:

?Allows truckers to operate their rigs for 12 consecutive hours which is two hours longer than the rule in place now.
?Allows for only a minimum of 32 hours off-duty rest after 5-6 days of driving.
?Allows unlimited nighttime driving without restriction.
?Does not distinguish between driving and non-driving truck work. Drivers could drive for 12 hours and then spend several hours loading or unloading during what was supposed to be their off-duty rest time.

The new ruling has clear advantages and disadvantages. Since truck driver fatigue is a contributing factor in as many as 30-40% of all heavy truck collisions, something must clearly be done to reduce the number of tried truckers on our nation's roadways. And since the risk of a crash doubles from the 8th to the 10th hour of driving and then doubles again from the 10th to the 11th hour of driving, obviously limiting consecutive hours driving is crucial to promoting truck driving safety.

Trucks
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Trucks