Are Trucking Regulations Encouraging Drowsy Driving?
Drowsy driving is on the rise. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, fatigued driving contributed to almost 11% of serious crashes in 2017. In Texas, drowsy driving isn’t the only statistic that’s gone up in recent years. In 2017, truck crashes claimed the lives of 649 people in Texas alone, a 14% increase in truck wreck fatalities from 2016.
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Unfortunately, at least 13% of truck wrecks involve driver fatigue, although experts believe that this metric is significantly underreported. With drowsy driving and truck fatalities both being serious concerns, lawmakers should be increasing regulations on truck drivers in order to create safer driving conditions.
However, the current administration and some lawmakers are more concerned with reducing regulation than with trucking safety. There is considerable money to be made by relaxing restrictions on the trucking industry, and several regulations have been withdrawn and repealed at the expense of driver safety.
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Relaxed Trucking Regulations Contribute to Drowsy Driving
In recent years, regulators at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) have relaxed restrictions on the hours truck drivers are required to sleep each night. Previously, DOT regulations stated that truck drivers needed to get at least two consecutive nights’ worth of sleep between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. before starting a new work week.
The trucking lobby successfully argued that forcing truck drivers to work certain hours creates unnecessary congestion on the roads at those times. However, by allowing truck drivers to bypass a necessary sleep period, we deprive them of the rest they need to travel our roadways safely, placing other drivers at risk.
“With drowsy driving and truck fatalities both being serious concerns, lawmakers should be increasing regulations on truck drivers in order to create safer driving conditions.”
This is not the only safety law that has been withdrawn or repealed recently. The DOT is no longer considering regulations that mandate screening for sleep apnea disorders in truck drivers, electronic speed-limiting devices for trucks, and guard rails that would keep cars from becoming wedged under a truck trailer during a collision.
RELATED ARTICLE: Drowsy Driving Accidents Are On The Rise
How Does Fatigue Affect Driving Abilities?
Reducing trucking regulations might have positive benefits on truck driver productivity and companies’ bottom lines. However, it increases truck safety concerns. Regulations that encourage drowsy driving are especially dangerous since fatigue has serious negative effects on drivers, including:
- Slower reaction time
- Poor decision making
- Decreased coordination
- Inefficient information processing
- Increased irritation
- Higher levels of aggression
In fact, someone who is driving on four to five hours of sleep is just as likely to crash as a drunk driver with a 0.08 blood-alcohol content (BAC).
Trucking Boom and Driver Shortages Lead to Increased Cases of Drowsy Driving
Generating over 700 billion dollars in revenue and employing 7.7 billion people in 2017, there is no doubt that the trucking industry is a crucial part of our country’s economy. And it will continue to grow as more and more trucks hit the road to keep up with increasing consumer demand. But the industry is facing a huge shortage of truck drivers, placing additional pressure on drivers to cover more ground by sleeping the minimal amount and even falsifying records that state what hours they worked.
As the industry continues to grow and face a personnel shortage, it is more important than ever to properly regulate drivers to ensure their health, and the safety of other drivers on the roads.
Crosley Law Fights for Texas Truck Accident Victims
With drowsy driving cases on the rise, it’s important to know your rights and options if you have suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one in a truck crash. You’ll also need to act quickly to preserve important driving logs and truck data that might support your injury claim.
At Crosley Law, we’re here to help. Our personal injury attorneys will listen to your story and provide honest advice about how best to proceed. Get your free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer now by calling 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000 or filling out our online contact form.
Drowsy driving is impaired driving (2017). National Safety Council. Retrieved from https://www.nsc.org/Portals/0/Documents/Fatigue%20Documents/Fact-Sheets/Drowsy-Driving-Problem-and-Statistics.pdf
Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2017 (2019, March). Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Analysis Division. Retrieved from
New Report Finds Trucking Industry Revenues Topped $700 Billion (2018, August). American Trucking Associations. Retrieved from https://www.trucking.org/article/New-Report-Finds-Trucking-Industry-Revenues-Topped-$700-Billion
Owens, J.M., Dingus, T.A., Guo, F., Fang, Y., Perez, M., McCafferty, J., & Taft, B.C. (2018, February). Prevalence of drowsy driving crashes: Estimates from a large-scale naturalistic driving study. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Retrieved from http://aaafoundation.org/prevalence-drowsy-driving-crashes-estimates-large-scale-naturalistic-driving-study/
The large truck crash causation study- Analysis brief (2007, July). Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/research-and-analysis/large-truck-crash-causation-study-analysis-brief
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.