Fatigue is a serious problem that affects truck drivers across the country. Drowsy driving alone is often deadly, and can be even more dangerous when combined with additional hazards, such as icy roads or sun glare. In 2015, 126 people were killed in New York State in large truck accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This number was higher than the previous several years, indicating that there may be serious safety issues regarding the trucking industry and the general public.
Recently, a government spending bill suspended current federal regulations that restrict the hours truck drivers are allowed on the road without taking an extended rest break. Currently, truckers are required to rest for two consecutive days after a work week of 75 hours. Officials from the American Trucking Associations argue that states should not have additional rules on top of federal regulations; instead, the group asserts, the entire nation should enforce standard, uniform laws on truck drivers’ working hours when they travel across state lines. The group plans to attempt to block states’ individual laws on rest break hours.
Safety advocates have long been concerned that the trucking industry cares more about money than about the safety of truckers and other motorists. With the upcoming presidential change, those on both sides of the fence worry that changing laws may have detrimental effects to the trucking industry, public safety or both. For now, it remains to be seen whether there will be significant changes to federal and state regulations regarding truckers’ driving hours. It cannot be argued, however, that when drivers get adequate sleep, lives may be saved.
Source: CNBC, "Rollback of truck safety rules may be just the beginning," Dec. 8, 2016