Capps, Cantwell, Capps & Byrd

Fatigue is an issue some truck drivers refuse to recognize

No matter the degree of emphasis put on the dangers of drowsy driving, truckers often ignore the rules and put profit before safety. When it comes to a truck-car crash, the smaller vehicle loses, and the cause of that crash may very well be driver fatigue.

Common reasons for crashes

Equipment failure can be a factor in a truck-related crash, and so can braking issues. Due to its weight, a loaded 18-wheeler requires a stopping distance 30 to 40 percent greater than that needed by a passenger car, even more when roads are wet or slippery. Another factor in truck-car accidents, however, is driver fatigue. In fact, federal officials contend that drowsy driving is a leading cause of highway crashes. Many motorists put their trust in commercial drivers and do not realize how common fatigue is among this profession.

A change in rules

In 2013, a federal rule change lowered the maximum workweek for commercial truck drivers from 82 hours to 70 hours. First, a trucker has to comply with the “restart rule.” The restart is a mandatory 34-hour rest period that must contain two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. The goal is for drivers to have at least two nights of rest a week. Furthermore, they can drive no more than 11 hours a day, and their schedule must include a 30-minute break.

Non-compliance

Surveys show that many drivers ignore the 11-hour rule and put in longer hours on the road. The more miles they cover in a day’s time, the bigger the profits. However, when you consider how much traffic there is these days, driver fatigue is an ongoing concern.

Coming through

Motorists in Tennessee see big rigs on the road all the time, and many are passing through from other states. Some truckers may be among those who ignore the federal rules and drive as long as they can every day. If a truck-related crash occurs in our state, the case may go to federal court, but first, an investigation will determine what caused the accident. It would not be unusual for driver fatigue to be the cause.

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