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Fatigue issues and truck accidents

Given the size of a big rig, an Ohio resident may not be surprised that 98 percent of truck-related deaths are those who occupy passenger vehicles involved in such accidents. However, statistics indicate that an estimated 800 truck drivers also die in such accidents each year. One of the most significant concerns related to trucking accidents is driver fatigue, an issue that has prompted laws governing mandated rest periods for truck drivers. Recommended changes to existing laws have received mixed reaction.

It is agreed that sufficient rest is important, and the existing regulations require eight hours of rest for a driver after a 10-hour driving period. Proposed changes would expand the driving and resting cycle to a 24-hour period rather than using the existing 18-hour cycle. If the change is implemented, a driver would be allowed to drive for 12 hours consecutively before taking a mandatory 12-hour break. Proponents of the change believe this would facilitate more alert drivers by working with the natural time cycle. Opponents of the change view the increase in driving time as a risk contributing to a greater level of fatigue and more potential for truck accidents.

Advocates for these changes also emphasize that drivers would be limited to 60-hour workweeks. However, opponents of the change object to the lack of limitations for night driving as well as the lack of regulation for non-driving activities. Statistics indicate that the potential for accidents rises significantly after eight to 10 hours of driving, and the risk increases even more after 10 to 11 hours of solo driving.

An individual injured in a truck-related accident may want to investigate driving records and issues such as electronic records to determine whether driver fatigue has played a role in the incident. A lawyer may be important for coordinating such investigation.

Source: Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, "Truck Driver Fatigue", November 07, 2014

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