Too many truck accidents have resulted from driver fatigue. Now a federal agency is proposing new safety rules for truck driving that could reduce the number of accidents.
In one such accident, a female trucker pulled onto an interstate highway from the shoulder of the road, smashing into another truck and killing the driver of the other vehicle, a 33-year-old father of two. A federal lawsuit stemming from the accident alleged that the female trucker had driven for approximately 19 hours in a row before the fatal truck accident.
A jury awarded the family of the deceased trucker $3 million in damages. The attorney for the plaintiff had argued that truckers driving for many hours without rest were putting other’s lives at risk.
In response to accidents such as this, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed the adoption of new safety rules that would limit interstate truckers to a maximum of 10 hours during every 14-hour shift, a reduction from the currently allowable 11 hours.
The new rules would also mandate one-hour rest breaks during long shifts that include loading and unloading, and a designated amount of time off after a period of seven days of driving.
One new rule already adopted will go into effect next year and will require truckers found to have violated the hourly driving restrictions on multiple occasions to install devices in their vehicles to electronically record their driving time. Still under consideration is a more stringent rule which would require such recording devices for all truckers.
It’s hoped the changes will further reduce truck accidents. It could save lives.
Source: Orlando Sentinel, “Trucker-fatigue accidents prompt federal agency to propose new driving rules,” Christine Show, Aug. 29, 2011