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How big a problem is truck driver fatigue?

Did you have a close call with an 18-wheeler? Were you almost forced off the road by a semi-tractor trailer that drifted into your lane? Most truckers are responsible drivers, but they work long hours and are always subject to fatigue. That drowsy feeling is insidious; it can creep up and take over in seconds, creating a hazardous situation for the trucker and any other vehicles nearby, including yours.

Accident statistics point to driver fatigue

A truck driver who is bone tired from long working hours can increase your risk of an accident. According to data collected by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, almost 4,000 traffic fatalities each year are attributed to crashes involving large trucks, and fatigue is found to be the major factor in these deaths.

Regulating hours

Regulating the number of hours that truckers may drive is the responsibility of the FMCSA, and in 2011, the agency changed the hours-of-service rules that drivers must adhere to. Basically, the rules require drivers to take a break of 30 minutes within their first 8 hours of work. They must also use a 34-hour rest period, called a '"re-start," once every seven days, and it must include two periods of rest to be taken between 1 a.m and 5 a.m. The rule changes were designed to reduce the hours of the driver's workweek from 82 hours to 70.

Fatigue raising concerns

While it may seem obvious to you that an 82-hour workweek is much too long for safety, trucking company officials have emphasized that their drivers need flexibility in their work, and therefore should not be told when or how long to rest. The truth is that miles driven translates to money earned for those companies. Despite the pushback, certain serious concerns cannot be ignored: there are more vehicles on the road today and greater congestion to deal with than ever before. Almost all motorists have experienced fatigue at one time or other, and those who are professional drivers are more susceptible to it than most. Fatigue leads to poor judgment, slower reaction times and greater opportunities for highway accidents.

Car passengers are at risk

Studies show that in large truck-car crashes, the car passengers accounted for most of the deaths. You may not realize how common these accidents are, but the next time a big rig unexpectedly drifts toward you on the highway, what follows may not be just another close call. If you are injured in a truck-car accident, the road ahead could be difficult in many respects, but remember that you are not alone. You can rely on the expertise of a personal injury attorney who is standing by to help.

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Romano & Associates, PLLC
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