One of the scariest things when sharing the road with a large truck is not knowing whether or not that trucker has slept in over 24 hours. When truck drivers don’t get enough sleep, they can make negligent maneuvers on the road and cause fatal crashes. While there are rules in place to guard against truck drivers driving too many hours, many truckers ignore such rules and end up driving drowsy, as we saw when a Wal-Mart truck driver seriously injured Tracy Morgan and killed his friend after driving for more than 24 hours.
Sadly, drowsy driving has led to many more serious and fatal collisions on the road. Because of this, there has been a focus on reducing the amount of hours truckers are allowed to drive in order to keep the public protected. After much debate, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was able to pass a new Hours-of-Service law last year that would require truckers to drive less and rest more.
The change, unfortunately, did not go over well for those in the trucking industry as resting more means less loads delivered and less pay. Not only are the new rules impacting the pocketbooks of those in the trucking industry, but the new rules have affected the cost of shipping around the country. As a result, President Obama recently signed a bill that suspends the new 34-hour restart provision of the Hours-of-Service rules.
The president’s signature suspends the requirement that truckers have two back-to-back 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. off-duty periods in any restart. While this suspension may help reduce costs in the trucking industry, the concern is still the public’s safety. If truckers are allowed to drive more hours without having a restart period, motorists may be put at a higher risk.
Because the new rules were designed to reduce driver fatigue and trucking accidents nationwide, FMCSA plans to enforce the new rule again after the suspension runs its course on September 30, 2015. However, until then, many trucking companies may require their drivers to work longer hours without taking a restart—leading to many unsafe trucks on the road.