Several recent accidents involving large trucks and busses such as the UPS accident today where the driver fell asleep and the accident involving the van with famous comedians that was hit by a tractor-trailer driver who had fallen asleep have brought to light an important issue facing many long distance drivers on the road today. Sleep deprivation and other sleep related issues are some of the most dangerous situations truck drivers and others on the road can come up against. With tight schedules to adhere to and delivery deadlines, rushing to beat the clock is an understandable difficulty of the job for many of these drivers. But what, if any, solution is there to this often deadly part of the job?
Fighting Fatigue on the Road
Currently The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations state that a truck driver can work for a total of 14 hours per day but that they can drive for no more that 11 hours each day. The regulations also state that a driver must have at least 10 hours off the clock between each shift. This is when each truck driver is supposed to be resting and sleeping. But it seems that for many truck and bus drivers on the road these measures aren't being met as recently crash reports reveal drivers have been up and going for more than 24 hours before a crash.
Finding a Solution
In 2013 The Sleep Apnea Trucking Bill was signed into law. this new law states that truckers must be screened, diagnosed and treated for sleep apnea and any related medical conditions. The law could help to save thousands of lives and billions of dollars in legal fees for trucking companies that have to deal with the damage created by fatigued driving. This law will also help to protect the drivers themselves from unfair and biased treatment on behalf of their employers, ultimately making the roads safer for all who travel them.
In July of 2013 several new regulations for truck drivers were also put into effect. These new regulations state that drivers maximum work weeks are limited to 70 hours. They also require truckers who have met the 70 hour mark to rest for a full 34 consecutive hours before they can resume their driving responsibilities.
Truckers must now also take a regular 30 minute break during the first 8 hours of their driving shift in order to break up their day and keep them more alert out on the road. The truckers are also required to keep a log of their breaks and hours on while driving in order to comply with the new regulations and many companies are requiring electronic check-ins to keep track of their drivers and ensure their safety. Time will tell if these new laws will help fight driver fatigue and limit truck accidents in the future.