Driver fatigue is a leading cause of traffic accidents in Texas, especially those involving truckers. To combat the issue and increase safety, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted certain laws in 2013. According to the FMCSA, 560 injuries, 19 deaths and around 1400 traffic accidents can be prevented in America annually with the new measures.
The regulations limit driving times to reduce fatigue for truckers. Within the first eight hours of the start of a shift, truckers have to take a break that lasts at least 30 minutes. A driver still has a maximum workday of 14 hours with a driving limit of 11 hours. Additionally, they can only work 70 hours in a workweek, which is 12 hours less than under the previous regulations. There must be two nights of rest for a total of 34 hours in a row for truckers who meet the 70-hour maximum. These nights must include the hours of 1 am to 5 am.
According to NPR, being awake for more than 36 hours is linked to the fatigue that causes 13 percent of the 3,000 to 4,000 fatal crashes involving buses and trucks each year. Many truckers feel significant pressure from trucking companies to drive as much as possible and face repercussions for being late. They also wish to drive as many hours as they can because each load they haul or the number of miles they drive determines the amount they get paid.
Despite this pressure, around 85 percent of truckers will not see a change to their typical working day under the new law. The ones who will feel it the most are those who drive lengthy routes around the country. There are also repercussions for companies that force drivers to go beyond the limit. New automated electric logs will assist in keeping truckers and companies honest about how long a driver has been on the road.