Some members of the trucking industry in Wisconsin and other states are pleased with the news that the Department of Transportation is pushing to relax regulations concerning truck drivers’ hours on the road. However, other individuals are concerned about the possibility of more sleep-deprived drivers being behind the wheel.
Existing regulations concerning truck driver hours put the breaks on driving beyond 11 hours on long hauls within a 14-hour on-duty time period. Additionally, drivers are required to have 10 consecutive hours of off-duty time before they begin another on-duty period. Drivers are also required to take half-hour breaks if they’ll be driving for more than eight hours. The punishment for not following the rules is the possibility of being marked out of service for one or more days, which means drivers’ paychecks would be affected if they are kept off the road.
In 2017, more than 4,000 large trucks were involved in fatal accidents. During the same year, another 344,000 non-fatal truck accidents contributed to injuries. This was an increase of 10 percent from the previous year. Nearly 60 percent of the fatal crashes took place in rural areas. Most of the crashes also occurred later in the evening, overnight, or early in the morning, which possibly explains why 60 percent of truck drivers involved in fatal collisions were identified as either being fatigued or asleep at the time of the accident. The National Transportation Safety Board states driver fatigue is a major problem that’s under-reported.
If driver fatigue is a suspected factor in a truck-car collision, a truck accident attorney may review available electronic logging device (ELD) data to look for hours of service (HOS) violations. Even if there are no HOS issues, a lawyer might interview witnesses or review device data to identify other possible contributing factors, such as driver distraction, speeding, or mechanical problems with the truck itself.