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Proposed rule changes to combat truck driver fatigue

Kentucky residents are likely aware that accidents involving drowsy drivers can cause serious injury or death. This type of collision frequently takes place at high speed, and a fatigued driver who strays into the path of oncoming traffic often gives other road users little or no time to react or take evasive action. This type of accident is made even more dangerous when the fatigued driver is behind the wheel of a large commercial vehicle. A 1997 Federal Highway Administration survey revealed that 28 percent of truck drivers admitted to falling asleep while driving.

Logistics companies operate in a highly competitive market, and pressure to deliver goods in the shortest possible time can lead to drivers spending more time than they should behind the wheel. Federal regulations limit the length of driver shifts and mandate rest periods, but truck accidents involving a fatigued commercial driver still kill 750 people each year, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

To combat this problem, the FMCSA has proposed changes to the rules governing how much time commercial vehicle drivers can spend behind the wheel, and one of the proposals calls for the use of tamper-proof technology to monitor driving time. Data from the Netherlands shows that the use of such devices improves driver behavior and compliance with the regulations.

Road users involved in a collision with a large commercial vehicle can suffer life-changing injuries. Some may be unable to work for prolonged periods, and those with physically demanding work may be forced to change careers. When an accident involving a truck is caused by driver fatigue, inadequate maintenance or other negligent actions, a personal injury attorney may be able to file a lawsuit against the truck driver or trucking company on behalf of those who suffer injury, loss or damage.

Source: Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, "Truck Driver Fatigue", November 04, 2014

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