After more than 15 years of doing research and sleep studies, it became very clear to experts that the amount of sleep a person gets can have a significant impact on their day-to-day lives. This was most important when applied to how a person functioned in their job. And for truck drivers, sleep deprivation is not just a problem that affects them but rather everyone on the roadway.
As many of our California readers know, fatigued driving can result in serious accidents. To curb this problem, the Transportation Department passed federal regulations that put a limit on the amount of hours logged by truck drivers in a given work week. What used to be an 82-hour work week was shortened to 70 hours, with a required 34-hour “restart” period in between work weeks.
Though this regulation was put in place to reduce the number of trucking accidents that are caused by fatigued driving, some trucking companies are now asking Congress to ease these safety limits and “restore the industry’s 82-hour ‘workweek’.” Some in the industry say that the regulations force drivers to drive during times of heavy traffic, which is more of a danger. But some experts disagree.
According to the head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “a vast majority of trucking companies don’t hit the 70-hour maximum.” This means that for 85 percent of truck drivers, the regulations are a non-issue. If Congress reverses current regulations, they will be undermining what these regulations were designed to do, which is to make working conditions safer for truck drivers by eliminating a major factor in trucking accidents.
As you can imagine, an increase in trucking accidents could mean an increase in workers’ compensation claims as well, which is a problem states across the nation soon, depending on how Congress votes on the issue.
Source: The Insurance Journal, “Some Trucking Firms Want Congress to Ease Safety Limit on Truckers’ Hours,” Jeff Plungis, June 5, 2014