Drowsy truck drivers caused around 12 % of the 129120 total big rig collisions that occurred in 2012. When a trucker is fatigued, he may fall asleep behind the wheel or may simply suffer from delayed reaction time.
FMCSA has tried to prevent big rig accidents caused by sleepy driving with hours-of-service rules and other regulations aimed to limiting drive time. Unfortunately, as Fox News reports, there are concerns that it is too easy for truck drivers to pretend to be in compliance with these rules.
Truck Drivers May Cheat at Compliance
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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) updated hours-of-service rules, with new limits going into effect in July of 2013. The new rules made many changes criticized by professional big rig organizations. For example, the rules require a 34-hour rest break including two periods between the hours of 1:00 and 5:00 a.m. The rest break is mandated after 60 hours of driving per week or after 70 hours of driving over an eight-day period. FMCSA also limited drivers to 11 hours of driving and 14-total hours of on-duty time, and said long haul truckers have to take a half hour break after eight hours of drive time. Some argued this would impede productivity and force drivers to be on the roads at peak times.
There are a lot of critics who don’t want electronic monitoring, but there are also powerful advocates. Many companies have already switched to voluntary electronic monitoring, and if all companies did then the playing field would be more level and the roads safer. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also indicates that 20 deaths and 434 injuries could be prevented annually with electronic monitoring, resulting in a total safety benefit equaling $394.8 million. It will take time for the proposed rule to move forward, but hopefully it will soon be an effective way to reduce drowsy driving crashes among professional truckers.
Regulators Criticize truck Safety and Accountability Plan
A tanker truck recently overturned and exploded in a huge fireball in Fall River recently, with state police reporting the vehicle carried some 11,000 gallons of gasoline as it rolled over near the exit ramp at Presidents Avenue.
FMCSA trucking safety programs
However, a big part of the problem is that of the nation’s approximately 525,000 active carriers, the FMCSA only had enough data to access the safety performance of about 200,000 – less than half of those. Congress has expressed concern that this isn’t good enough.
Preventing Boston Drowsy Driving Collisions
Driving while fatigued has become a major problem on U.S. roads. The National Sleep Foundation reveals that the annual costs of sleepy driving crashes totals about $12.5 billion. There are 1,500 people dying annually in the U.S. due to collisions involving tired driving, and there are another 71,000 people getting hurt.
Drivers generally know that drowsy driving is dangerous, and yet many people choose to get behind the wheel despite being tired. If you or a loved one becomes involved in a collision with a motorist you suspect was driving drowsy, you should consult with a personal injury lawyer for help pursuing a damage claim.
The Risks of Drowsy Driving
Driving while sleepy is something that people know is dangerous. In fact, according to Cheat Sheet, 60 percent of respondents to a recent survey said that they think drowsy driving should be illegal. The majority of states have not expressly criminalized this behavior. However, Cheat Sheet reports that New Jersey has made clear that drowsy drivers can be charged with reckless driving and Arkansas has made clear that drowsy drivers can be charged with negligent homicide if they are tired and cause a deadly crash.
Drivers should still make the responsible choice even if the law does not expressly prohibit sleepy driving. Unfortunately, they are not doing so. CarInsurance.com recently surveyed 2,000 motorists and found that around half admitted that they had driven despite concerns about safety. Of the motorists who said they’d gotten behind the wheel at a time when they shouldn’t, a full 68 percent said that the problem that they drove despite being concerned about fatigue.
This is a problem. Psych Central reports that most adults require at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night. A person who does not get enough sleep will begin to build up a “sleep debt” and “eventually your body will demand that the debt be repaid.”
If you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident in Boston, Springfield, or Holyoke, a car and big rig accident lawyer with our Massachusetts firm will fight to help you obtain compensation you deserve. At the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone, serving Massachusetts, our personal injury attorneys have an impressive record of trial verdicts and settlements.
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