Do big rig drivers spend too much time on the road?

You might be aware that truck driver fatigue can increase the risk of accidents in Texas and around the country, but there is contention as to when the number of hours leads to dangerous levels of fatigue. According to the New York Times, 1 in 7 of the 30,000 annual deaths resulting from highway accidents are due to crashes that involve large trucks. Not all of these accidents can be related to trucker fatigue, but it is one of the major risk factors--and one area that can potentially be prevented.

As the highways become more congested, it is important that truck drivers remain aware. Any hint of fatigue could lead to danger, but it is difficult to find hard evidence demonstrating a clear correlation between fatigue and crashes. A recent study found that 13 percent of accidents were due to truck driver fatigue, but a previous one found the number to be far more significant at 31 percent.

To reduce your concerns, the federal government changed the regulations surrounding the maximum number of hours on the road for truck drivers in 2013. You might believe that the new regulations still allow a lot of hours on the road, but the trucking industry is not happy with the shortened driving hours. Many are fighting to get some of these new regulations repealed.

With the new driving regulations, truck drivers now must take one 30-minute break while driving, and they cannot be on the road for longer than 11 hours in one day. In addition to a lunch break, drivers must also take two "nights" of rest during the mandatory 34 hours break between workweeks if they meet the maximum hours. These nights are defined as a period between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Another change reduced the maximum workweek from 82 hours to just 70.

Many drivers do not routinely meet the maximum of 70 hours in one week and may not drive 11 hours in one day. However, drivers do have monetary incentives to drive as much as possible, which could lead to some spending too much time on the road. While drivers continue to fight the rules that force the two-night break, advocates for your road safety believe repealing the laws would be a dangerous mistake.

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