Truck accidents are often deadly, and drowsy truckers are sometimes the cause. The trucking industry is fueled by our booming consumerism, and while it is under pressure to keep up with demand, trucking companies are responsible for implementing rules that adhere to federal and state safety standards. When trucking companies push their truck drivers to put in more hours behind the wheel than is safe, they put profits before safety, and they should be held accountable.
Drivers – including truckers – who are fatigued are impaired and should not be on our roads. Additionally, truck drivers are professional drivers who are held to more exacting safety standards. The statistics related to fatigued driving, as forwarded by the National Safety Council, are sobering, and they include:
- In 2015, an estimated 5,000 people were killed in accidents that involved fatigued drivers.
- The more fatigued the driver, the greater his or her reaction time, and the less able he or she is to pay adequate attention to the road.
- Fatigued drivers are three times more likely than well-rested drivers to die in car accidents
Hours of Service Rules
Because driving while fatigued is so dangerous, there are strict Hours of Service Rules for truck drivers. These rules are in place to help keep everyone safer, and the basics are as follows:
- Truckers cannot drive more than 11 hours after resting for at least 10 consecutive hours.
- After starting a shift, a trucker cannot drive beyond the 14th hour.
- In any 7-day stretch, a trucker may not put in more than 60 hours behind the wheel (or 70 hours in 8 days)
Truckers drive for a living, and they do not get paid if they are not putting miles behind them. Nevertheless, they must balance this motivation with all safety requirements, including hours of service.
Trucking Company Culture
The trucking industry – like all going business concerns – is profit-driven, but trucking companies are responsible for strictly adhering to all necessary safety standards, including their drivers’ hours-of-service requirements. When a trucking company cultivates a culture in which drivers are either rewarded (with bonuses) or punished (with demerits) for on-time hauls – regardless of intervening factors – they can push truckers to put in more hours behind the wheel than is safe. The fact is that bad weather, bad traffic, bad road conditions, and much more can slow a trucker down considerably and require him or her to take more breaks. Trucking companies who put profits before safety make our roads less safe for everyone.