Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tired Truckers Pose Risk

In the US each year, approximately 5,000 people are killed and nearly 150,000 are injured in trucking accidents. One in four passenger vehicle deaths in multiple-vehicle crashes involve a large truck, and large trucks are involved in multiple-vehicle fatal crashes twice as often as passenger vehicles. When truckers are tired from excessive daily and weekly work hours, they increase the risk of crashes that result in injury or death.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that 750 people die each year due to fatigued truck drivers. Approximately 20,000 others are injured due to truck driver fatigue. For this reason, the FMCSA has proposed a rule change regarding the number of hours a trucker can drive without taking a break.

Currently, the law allows drivers to operate a truck or bus no more than 10 consecutive hours before resting for a minimum of 8 hours. This rule allows drivers to spend 16 hours driving in a 24-hour period. The new rule proposes a rotating schedule of work and rest based on a 24-hour period instead of an 18 hour period, requiring longer rest periods for drivers. The new rule would require drivers to rest between 9-12 continuous hours each day.

There are pros and cons to the new ruling.

The proposed new rule promotes safety by:

• Requiring longer rest periods for truck drivers. If there is any interruption in the off-duty time of the driver by dispatchers or other personnel, the driver gets to re-start the off-duty period. • Electric On-Board Records (EOBR) will be required in long-haul vehicles and in regional drivers. These devices are tamper-proof and can monitor actual daily and weekly driving time. • Drivers must take 2-3 hours of breaks in addition to the required 9-12 hour off-duty period. • Drivers are limited to a 60-hour work week. Upon reaching the maximum, drivers must have an off-duty period encompassing at least 2 successive nights.

The proposed new rule contributes to driver fatigue by:

• Allowing truck drivers to operate their rigs for 12 consecutive hours which is two hours longer than the rule in place now. • Allowing for only a minimum of 32 hours off-duty rest after 5-6 days of driving. • Allowing unlimited nighttime driving without restriction. • Not distinguishing between driving and non-driving truck work. Drivers could drive for 12 hours and then spend several hours loading or unloading during what was supposed to be their off-duty rest time.

Since truck driver fatigue is a contributing factor in as many as 30-40% of all heavy truck collisions, something needs to be done to reduce the number of fatigued truckers on our roadways.

If you live in the Baltimore area of Maryland and have been injured in a truck accident, you may have a valid legal claim. Please visit the website of Maryland truck accident attorneys Cohen & Dwin today to learn more.