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Truck driver fatigue costs thousands of lives every year

Large commercial trucks are a common sight on highways near Schenectady, as well as across the country. While trucking is a necessary industry, it also results in thousands of accidents each year. As discussed in previous posts, truck collisions have the potential to cause devastating harm, due to the size and speed of these large vehicles.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 14 people were killed in New York State in 2014 due to accidents involving large trucks. This fatality number has remained relatively consistent in the state over the past few years. Every year, about 4,000 people are killed across the country in commercial trucking crashes. There are numerous factors that regularly cause truck accidents, but driver fatigue is among the top dangers in the trucking industry.

For decades, truck drivers have been known to work long hours. To transport goods on time or ahead of schedule, it is common for drivers to spend as many hours on the road as possible. Consequently, truck drivers who spend so many hours behind the wheel are likely to be sleep-deprived. To address this issue, states the U.S. Department of Transportation, federal law limits truck drivers’ hours behind the wheel to 70 hours per week. This rule was changed in 2011 from 82 driving hours in a week. Additionally, truck drivers are required to take a 30-minute break at some point during their first eight hours after beginning a shift, and must take a rest period of 34 consecutive hours during the work week.

Despite these regulations, fatigue-related truck accidents are still a regular occurrence. The federal government, trucking companies and truck drivers continue to try to find solutions that can allow truckers to do their jobs safely and in a timely manner, while keeping America’s highways safe.

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