On July 1, a new federal law that modifies current hours-of-service rules went into effect, affecting thousands of truckers on U.S. highways.The law is meant to help keep our highways safer, and reduce the number of truck accidents caused by drivers who are driving while fatigued or drowsy.
Under the law, truck drivers will be required to take a break of at least a half hour in the first eight hours after they begin driving.The rule also sets a maximum work week of 70 hours, a reduction from the earlier 82-hour limit.
These are significant changes, and have come as a result of concern over the dangers from drowsy truckers on U.S. highways.There have been a number of serious accidents involving truck drivers who were fatigued and sleepy while driving.Drowsy driving is a major safety concern, and it affects not just commercial truckers and bus drivers, but also motorists.In fact, drowsy driving is believed to be one of the most neglected and underestimated safety issues impacting our roads.
However, the trucking industry, including the American Trucking Association, continues to be strongly critical of the new rules that require truck drivers to take more rest during a typical work week.According to their position, this rule will significantly impact the industry’s efficiency, and will increase the number of trips that commercial vehicle drivers will have to make to transport the same amount of cargo.
An 18-wheeler driver is at a much higher risk of driving while fatigued than motorists.That is because truckers by the very nature of their jobs are required to drive for long periods of time on endless stretches of highway. They may also be all alone during this journey, which can enhance fatigue and drowsiness.
Truck drivers may also be at a much higher risk of fatigue because they may be at higher risk for a sleep-related condition called sleep apnea.Persons, who suffer from this condition, have disrupted breathing during sleep, and this results in insufficient sleep.As a result, the truck driver may be very sleepy while driving the next day.
The trucking industry has been quite proactive about identification and management of sleep apnea, and many companies now have programs in place that screen truck drivers for sleep apnea, and treat them for this disorder.
is in favor of laws that make our roads safer, and the attorneys at our law firm are no exception.More than 4,000 people are killed in trucking accidents annually, and those numbers need to drop further.