It’s no secret that truck drivers often battle sleep deprivation. With long hours on the road, cramped sleeping conditions, and the financial incentive to push on to their next destination, many truck drivers are operating large loads while tired. Because of this knowledge—plus accident statistics that indicate just how dangerous drowsy driving is—federal authorities have cracked down on the allowable hours a truck driver can be on the road.
While the new rules are in place to help protect the public from being in a truck accident—reducing the maximum workweek for truckers from 82 hours to 70 hours—many truck drivers and trucking companies are operating unsafely and continuing to drive more than the allowable driving time. When these laws are ignored, serious truck crashes and injuries can occur.
For example, the entire nation heard about the Wal-Mart truck driver who injured television star Tracy Morgan and killed his friend and fellow comedian James “Uncle Jimmy Mack” McNair. After investigators determined the trucker hadn’t slept for over 24-hours prior to the fatal crash, it is apparent that many truck drivers are still not getting enough sleep or are ignoring the hours-of-service rules set in place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Lessons Learned From the Tracy Morgan Truck Crash
What this fatal crash indicates is that truck drivers need to realize just how dangerous it is to drive while sleep deprived. Unfortunately, many commercial truckers still resist the rules on sleep and don’t believe federal authorities should regulate how and when they get rest. In fact, the trucking industry is trying to repeal the new laws, even after the fact that drowsy driving has been dubbed as a leading cause of accidents, injuries, and fatalities.
Because drowsy driving is a very real danger facing motorists sharing the roadway with large tractor-trailers, truck drivers need to do the following:
- Take the proper rest breaks that the law requires.
- Keep track of their rest breaks and sleep time.
- Not work more than the 11-hours a day.
- Not work more than 14 hours in a 24-hour period.
- Not work more than 70-hours a week.
Although truckers don’t like to be told what to do and when to rest, they need to follow the hours-of-service laws in place so that other motorists don’t suffer crash-related injuries as a result of unnecessary trucking accidents caused by drowsy driving truckers. Sadly, it is estimated that 70,000 people are injured and 1,550 people are killed as a result of drowsy driving over the last decade, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
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