Federal commercial trucking regulations may require truck drivers to stop and rest during their work day and to keep a long of their driving hours. But do truck drivers follow these rules and regulations? Although it is dangerous to others, many truck drivers can easily doctor their driving logs and stay on the roads for far too many hours at a time. All too often, truckers driving for extended periods of time become fatigued or fall asleep at the wheel, resulting in serious truck accidents and truck accident fatalities.
Even though there are Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations to prevent trucker fatigue, many think that the regulations don’t go far enough. Currently, truckers can drive for 11-hour stretches and work for 14-hour stretches – for seven consecutive days. It is hard to believe that working such long hours does not make truckers susceptible to fatigue or driver distraction. In addition, many truckers face pressure from trucking companies to haul faster. Both truckers and truck companies make more money the more quickly they can move products – but hauling trailers faster often means increasing the risk of truck accidents.
Truckers may also be motivated to drive early in the morning or late at night in order to avoid traffic or in order to delivery a load by a certain time. Driving during odd hours can add to fatigue.
All in all, safety advocates believe that fatigued drivers kill or seriously injure 5,000 people per year. Despite these shocking numbers, few steps have been made to better regulate the industry or to hold truckers or truck companies accountable for the truck accidents that occur.