Truck drivers in North Carolina may be aware of the rules and regulations regarding working hours, which were established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA in order to improve safety on the highways. The goal is to ensure that drivers on the highways are not fatigued because of extended working hours because that is one major contributing factor in the number of truck accidents that occur on the highways. There may be some trucking companies that push their drivers beyond the limit without understanding the threat that fatigued drivers pose to other motorists and pedestrians on the road.
Reports suggest that almost 4,000 people die annually in accidents involving trucks. Many truck drivers have also died in such accidents. The accident rates prompted the FMCSA to bring changes to the hours of service rule for truck drivers. Previously, drivers were allowed to take a 30-minute break within the first eight hours of duty and there was a 34-hour rest period known as a restart. According to the new rule, the drivers were allowed to use the restart period once every seven days, and they were also allowed to take two breaks between 1 and 5 a.m. to ensure that they remain alert before embarking on another heavy workweek.
Those changes altered the work hours from 82 hours to 70 hours per week. However, although not many truck drivers worked so many hours per week, there were definitely some trucking companies that pushed the drivers to work maximum hours. Research on fatigued and over-worked drivers revealed that fatigued drivers were often slow to react in certain situations and also failed to assess situations quickly. Sometimes, the truck drivers themselves were also not aware of how fatigued they were and thus failed to comprehend that their performance was suffering. Additionally, drifting between lanes while driving was also a common problem with many fatigued drivers.
There were objections from certain groups against the new rule. However, the court favored the FMCSA and allowed it to implement the new rule when necessary. If a driver who feels that the trucking company that employs the person is not adhering to this rule and is forcing the truck driver to work long hours without the proper resting periods, that driver may wish to consult an attorney for advice and guidance. Additionally, those involved in and harmed in a truck accident should consider the role fatigued driving played in the incident. This could help prove liability, thus holding a truck driver or trucking company liable in a personal injury claim.
Source: Transportation.gov, “Why We Care About Truck Driver Fatigue,” Accessed on Aug 19, 2015