Too many truckers getting away with fatigued driving

Tuesday June 24, 2014

Earlier this month, we wrote about the tragic trucking accident that claimed the life of a veteran comedy writer and left Tracy Morgan and others seriously injured. The accident occurred on June 7 when a Walmart tractor-trailer careened into the back of the comedians’ limo bus.

Following the crash, it was reported that the trucker involved had not slept in over 24 hours, which started a broader discussion on fatigued driving within the trucking industry. According to an article from The New York Times, sleep-deprived driving is an “open secret” among truck drivers, and something that the industry would rather not regulate.

In fact, since the federal government implemented laws last year reducing the number of hours truckers can log on the road each week, the trucking industry has been fighting for repeal, arguing that truckers need flexibility to perform their jobs.

But safety experts say that drowsy driving is a growing problem on American highways and is one of the main causes behind fatal car accidents. The June 7 crash resulted in plenty of media attention because of the high-profile victims involved, but similar accidents occur all of the time across the nation and go largely unnoticed, they say.

In fact, the Times reported that over 30,000 people are killed in highway fatalities each year, and one in seven of those accidents involve large trucks. Safety advocates say that it is often difficult to prove that fatigue contributed to a trucking fatality, but it is a likely culprit in many crashes.

Following a serious accident with a tractor-trailer, it’s important to make sure that an investigation takes place to determine whether negligence — such as fatigued driving — was involved. Unfortunately, many truck drivers and their employers get away with dangerous practices because officials and accident victims stop asking questions.

Source: The New York Times, “Truckers Resist Rules on Sleep, Despite Risks of Drowsy Driving,” Jad Mouawad and Elizabeth A. Harris, June 16, 2014

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