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Trucking regulations on drowsy driving could be rolled back

Trucking accidents have resulted in countless fatalities and injuries over the years in Delaware and elsewhere. Ultimately, when a tractor-trailer and a smaller vehicle collide, the smaller vehicle almost always ends up demolished because of the size and weight difference.

Even though truck drivers carry a huge responsibility in operating these massive vehicles on public roadways, the accidents are often a result of driver negligence. Truck driver fatigue, in particular, has been cited in numerous trucking fatalities and is a known problem in the industry.

Truckers are often pressured to drive around the clock in effort to make more money for their employers. Additionally, truckers often drive early in the morning and late at night, when the human body is naturally trying to sleep.

Because these accidents are so serious, and so prevalent, federal officials placed safety regulations on the trucking industry in 2012 in effort to make sure that truckers are getting the rest they need while on the roads.

The regulations limit the amount of time drivers can spend on the road over a certain number of hours and require drivers to keep track of their driving and sleeping in logs. For example, one provision limits the number of hours drivers can spend behind the wheel each week to 70, on average.

Since the hours of service limitations were put in place, the American Trucking Association has argued that they are unfair. And as a result of fierce lobbying from the trucking industry, the 70-hour limit could soon be raised to more than 82.

An editorial piece this week in the New York Times says the move, which was filed as a rider with Congress’ omnibus spending bill, could put additional lives at risk.

Many safety officials and some lawmakers have called for the rider to be eliminated from the year-end budget deal. Hopefully, for the sake of everyone on the roadways, it will be.

Source: The New York Times, "More Drowsy, Overworked Truck Drivers," Dorothy J. Samuels, Dec. 9, 2014

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