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Fatigued Truck Drivers Cause Accidents, and the Federal Government Is Putting Its Foot Down

Even if you weren’t aware of how dangerous truck accidents can be, the infamous crash that severely injured comedian Tracy Morgan and several others (one fatally) should’ve brought it to your attention. In the summer of 2014, a Wal-Mart truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and smashed into Morgan’s limo, killing his friend and mentor, and causing catastrophic injuries to the passengers. The driver claimed that he had been awake for over 24 hours, as he was trying to get his cargo to its destination on time.

In the United States alone, there are over three million truckers traveling across the country every year—and all of them are trying to get their cargo to its destination on time. This means there are potentially three million drivers steering tons of vehicles and cargo, despite having very little sleep because they’re forced to meet insanely short deadlines. As a result, many truckers fall asleep at the wheel and cause horrendous accidents like the one suffered by Morgan.

With Rest Comes Safety—What Are We Doing About It?

The U.S. government has been concerned about truck driver safety for many years. However, it took until 2012 for an updated trucker’s “hours of service” mandate to be passed. Previous versions of the rules permitted a trucker to work up to 82 hours a week (more than double regular working hours) and didn’t really specify when he had to sleep or for how long. However, the updated mandate, which went into effect in 2013, specifically spells out certain resting period rules for all truckers.

These rules are as follows:

  • Truckers must limit their work week to a maximum of 70 hours.
  • Truck drivers who reach the maximum 70 hours in one week can only resume driving if they rest for 34 consecutive hours. These 34 hours must also include a sleep period for at least two nights between the hours of 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m., when their body clock demands sleep the most.
  • Truck drivers are required to take a 30-minute or longer break during the first eight hours of a shift, preferably during the second half of the shift.
  • Drivers must not exceed 11 consecutive hours of driving.
  • Drivers may never stay on-duty for more than 14 consecutive hours; this includes all non-driving activities, truck maintenance, loading and unloading, paperwork, etc.
  • Drivers must have a minimum of 10 consecutive hours off-duty between their driving shifts.

Is It Enough for Your Family’s Protection?

Given the potential risks that fatigue can have, not only on the driver himself but also on your family and other people sharing the road, do you think these rules are sufficient? Should the government press for shorter work periods, since driving takes a lot of focus and attention? Would you feel safe knowing that you’re driving next to a truck whose driver has been staring at the road for ten-and-a-half hours?

Let us know your thoughts by leaving your opinion or a brief remark in the comment section provided. We look forward to reading your posts, as well as gaining further insight into how our clients feel about truck accidents and truck safety.

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