New Rest Rules for Truckers Aim To Reduce Drowsy Driving
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration implemented new safety rules on July 1 to reduce tractor-trailer accidents around the nation. The new rules have angered the commercial trucking industry, which points to a 30% reduction in large truck crash fatalities between 2000 and 2011 as evidence that safety has been improving without the new restrictions.
But drowsy driving is a prime concern for highway safety advocates who are fighting to cut the number of deadly traffic collisions involving large commercial trucks. The National Sleep Foundation has concluded that truckers are particularly prone to driving drowsy.
The new rules focus on making sure that truckers are well rested. They reduce the maximum number of weekly driving hours from 82 to 70. The regulations also require truckers to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours behind the wheel.
There were roughly 4,000 large truck crashes in 2011, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration hopes that the new rules will reduce truck accidents in the future. The federal agency has studied large truck crashes extensively and found that the most frequent cause of tractor-trailer wrecks is driver decision-making or error in judgment.
According to the FMCSA, other factors that contribute to truck accidents include:
- Brake problems
- Driver failing to stop at traffic signals
- Speeding or traveling too slowly
- Bad road conditions
- Lack of surveillance
- Drug abuse
The FMCSA is not the only agency that supports tougher restrictions for commercial trucks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommended in 2012 that all new large trucks be equipped with electronic security control systems. These systems could reduce rollover truck crashes by 56% and cut crashes caused by truckers losing control of a tractor-trailer by 14%, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration projects.
Many new cars are equipped with electronic security control systems, and in time they might help truckers stay safe as well. In the meantime, the FMCSA is trying to keep drivers alert and attentive so they can do their jobs without putting others in danger.
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