[box type="shadow"]Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has set several new rules in place to ensure truck drivers get enough rest to safely drive during their shifts. A new study undertaken by the National Sleep Foundation compares workers in the transportation industry – pilots, train operators, bus, taxi and limo drivers and truck drivers – with other workers and concludes that the nation’s pilots, train engineers and truck drivers aren’t getting enough sleep. The FMCSA decided to reduce the maximum number of hours that a truck driver can work in a week, from 82 hours per seven-day-period to 70 hours.[/box]
[box type="shadow"]The study comes on the heels of the new Hours-of-Service regulations announced in December. The FMCSA reduced the maximum number of hours truck drivers can drive in a seven day period from 82 to 70 and now requires truck drivers to take at least two nights’ rest, per week, between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. The FMCSA retained the 34 hour restart provision that requires drivers to rest for at least 34 hours after they reach their 70 hour limit. In addition, they must take a 30 minute break every eight hours.
The FMCSA said that drivers can continue to drive up to 11 hours per day, though more research will be conducted to see if there are any risks with this limit.
However, truck-accident lawyer Daniel W. Munley, chairman of the American Association of Justice’s Trucking Litigation Group, said in a statement that the rules are not strict enough to reduce fatigued driving.
“While the FMCSA does reduce a commercial motor vehicle driver’s maximum workweek by 12 hours, the new rules allow drivers to get back on the road too quickly after working what is still up to 70 hours in a single week,” Munley said in a statement. “This rest period is too short. Long-haul drivers will remain fatigued as they get back to work.”
Fatigued drivers are a serious problem in the U.S. As many as 15% of all truck accidents may be caused by overtired truck drivers. Nearly 5,000 people are killed every year in truck accidents, and hundreds of thousands more are injured.[/box]