by: Michael Monheit, Esquire of Monheit Law, P.C. Toll Free: 866-761-1385
How current an issue is tractor trailer truck driver fatigue?
Truck driver fatigue is a very current issue and has been subject of recent regulatory activity. Truck driver fatigue is subject of new regulations issued by USDOT (U.S. Department of Transportation) through FMCSA branch, which handles motor carrier (trucking) issues . Pursuant to these rules, a tractor trailer truck driver may only drive 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off. In addition, in order to prevent driver fatiugue, a tractor trailer truck driver may not drive more than 60 hours in any seven day period. If a driver takes 2.5 days off, he can clean his consecutive hours slate and start at 0 again.
Why not require even stricter time limits to prevent driver fatigue?
Another factor in preventing accidents is driver experience. If stricter guidelines were put in place immediately, there would be an insufficient number of experienced drivers. Thus, while decreasing number of accidents caused by tractor trailer truck driver fatigue, we would see an offset and even increase in total accidents due to those accidents caused by truck driver inexperience.
Are all hours logged, or just driving hours?
The Truckload Carriers Association has stated that drivers "understate their non-driving hours in their log books" and that to improve sales, companies expect their drivers to "wait, unload, and load at shipper's warehouses at no cost to shipper" and only then, begin logging time for their 11 hours. This may increase actual work hours by 50%, thus significantly increases risk of truck driver fatigue.
How common is tractor trailer driver fatiuge in causing accidents?
The NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) estimates that truck driver fatigue (lack of sleep, overwork) may be a factor in over a third of all large (semi, 18 wheeler) truck accidents. Further, NTSB found that truck driver fatigue was most likley cause in over 30% of crashes that were fatal to fatigued truck driver.