Truckers Battle Sleep Deprivation and Tight Deadlines
Posted on behalf of Edwards Law Firm on Jun 30, 2014 in Truck Accidents
Public opinion polls show that Americans have serious concerns about truck drivers and fatigue; a 2000 Insurance Research Council survey revealed 68% of respondents would pay more for goods and shipping if it meant truckers would work no more than 12 hours in a day. Considering the recent accident involving comedian Tracy Morgan and a truck driver who had been awake for 24 hours, the nation may have every right to be worried.
Truck drivers operate under regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and one of the most argued concepts is that of Hours of Service (HOS).
Although drivers are required to limit their work day to 14 hours (no more than 11 hours of driving,) truckers have been known to cheat these regulations to deliver their loads on time, typically for higher pay.
Trucker fatigue is so pervasive that the FMCSA's rules have been updated to include required 30-minute breaks in hauls over eight hours. The maximum average workweek was decreased to 70 hours from 82 when the amendments went into effect in July 2013.
But while these regulations are in place, commercial vehicle drivers may not be obeying the rules.
The Toledo Blade recently published a story discussing the drowsy driving debate in light of a major accident that took place on the Will Rogers Turnpike in Oklahoma. Federal investigators found that the 76-year-old driver may have fallen asleep at the wheel, causing the crash that killed 10 innocent people.
Cheating the system is not only illegal, it is a great way to increase the risk of an accident.
Sadly, the trucking industry is opposing the addition of more regulations on truckers sleep, claiming federal intrusion into the personal lives of truckers.
I don't know how the federal government polices sleep, said Bill Graves, the American Trucking Associations president and ex-governor of Kansas.
Opposition mainly stems from the lack of productivity the trucking industry experiences when workers are not on the road. If deliveries aren't being made, no one is getting paid.
Brian Fielkow, president of Jet-co Delivery, a Houston firm that operates about 100 trucks, said the hours regulations that went into effect last year reduced productivity in the industry by putting more trucks on the road in times of heavy traffic without addressing the safety issues.
But Eddie Torres, owner of Austin CDL Services, says the pressure to make timely deliveries forces drivers to make bad decisions, like driving an extra two hours off the clock to make their timetable.
When accidents happen, fatigue is often the culprit.