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Proposed changes to trucker drive times could endanger public

Drowsy drivers pose a potential threat to you and everyone else they encounter across California, and when the people driving while drowsy or fatigued are also driving large commercial trucks, they present even more of a public safety hazard. Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Transportation is considering easing up on the regulations currently surrounding trucker drive times, even though deregulating this part of the industry could create a serious threat to the public.

According to the Associated Press, proponents of loosening up the current regulations in place governing how long truckers can drive between breaks and similar matters believe that doing so would allow for more flexibility for workers. However, opponents note that current rules already allow semi-truck drivers to drive for 11 hours a day, which can give rise to drowsy driving and driving while fatigued.

Dangers of fatigued and drowsy driving

Just how much of an issue is trucker fatigue? Some say getting a true sense of the pervasiveness of the problem is difficult because authorities and administrators rarely record it on crash reports. However, per the results of one study, about 13% of all truck crashes that result in at least one injury or death involve fatigued truck drivers.

The fatigued driving problem has become so pervasive, in fact, that the National Transportation Safety Board said that reducing fatigue-related crashes was one of its primary safety objectives in 2019 and 2020. Furthermore, fatal crashes involving commercial trucks are already on the rise without easing up on trucker drive-time regulations. In 2017, more than 4,650 fatal crashes involving semi-trucks occurred on the nation’s roadways, which was a 10% increase over the year before.

Drive-time rules and regulations are in place to prevent long-haul drivers from falling asleep at the wheel or otherwise compromising their ability to drive safely. Becoming laxer about trucker drive times will likely lead to more drowsy truck drivers traveling the nation’s roadways, and drowsy driving-related truck wrecks will likely increase as a result.