According to government authorities, between 3000 and 4000 people die in America every year as a result of large truck and bus crashes. It is further reported that in 13 percent of those cases, the deaths were caused as a result of driver fatigue. In an attempt to limit the damaging consequences that follow a truck accident, the Federal Motor Safety Administration began enforcement of a new set of rules on Monday, July 8th.
The new safety rules contain three parts. Each of these parts reduces driving time as compared to the previous rules. Reportedly, the new rules have come about as a result of extensive research into the relationship between driver fatigue and safety. Truck drivers have expressed mixed feelings about the new rules. Some agree and have stated their opinion that the human brain is simply not equipped to handle driving for extended periods. Other drivers object and believe that experienced drivers will instinctively know when a break from driving is needed.
On one hand, drivers believe that their income will suffer, as many drivers are paid by the mile. They also fear penalties for late arrival. In response, the agency responsible for the rules estimates that changes could cost the trucking industry $500 million per year and save as many as 19 lives annually. The agency estimates a net of $200 million per year to the economy as a whole.
Well-reasoned arguments for both sides may continue. If a driver feels that he or she may be a victim of undue pressure on the part of his employer regarding the new rules, it would be wise to seek the counsel of an experienced attorney.
Source: NPR, “New Rules Put Brakes On Truck Drivers’ Schedules“, June 30, 2013