Would Relaxed Restrictions on Truck Driver Sleep Schedules Cause More Trucking Accidents in Sacramento?

Would Relaxed Restrictions on Truck Driver Sleep Schedules Cause More Trucking Accidents in Sacramento?

Would Relaxed Restrictions on Truck Driver Sleep Schedules Cause More Trucking Accidents in Sacramento?

Would Relaxed Restrictions on Truck Driver Sleep Schedules Cause More Trucking Accidents in Sacramento?

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento truck accident lawyer. Over the past decade, regulations involving truck driver sleep schedules have been in flux as drivers pushed for heightened restrictions and the trucking industry pushed for a more lax standard. Sleep schedule regulations focus mainly on how long a truck driver can be behind the wheel before he is required to rest.

The History of Driver Fatigue Law

Back in 2003, drivers could drive for a maximum of eleven hours straight and then were required to rest for ten hours before resuming. If the truck had a sleeper berth ā€“ a private cabin with a bed attached to the cab of the truck ā€“ the driver had to spend ten hours in the sleeper berth, which could be divided into two separate periods as long as each period lasted for at least two hours. This law was later changed in 2008 to require that at least one period last for eight hours.

Many drivers rebelled and refused to follow the law, arguing they should be allowed to divide up their sleeping schedules however they chose. Many drivers without sleeping berths tried to do other work besides driving, such as loading or working in the warehouse, to fill the ten-hour period. However, according to a study done by the federal government, truck driver fatigue is one of the most common causes of big rig accidents and accounts for almost 15% of all exhaustion-related vehicular crashes.

In response to public outcry over truck drivers falling asleep behind the wheel, Congress passed a law that mandated that if a truck driver was driving for eight days in a row, he must rest for 34 hours every 70 hours of driving. However, the law placed restrictions on when the rest could occur. For example, the law required two rest periods between the hours of 1 and 5 a.m.

The trucking industry pushed back, and Congress again amended the law, only requiring the 34-hour rest without any attached rules or restrictions. However, in 2014, famous actor and comedian Tracy Morgan was severely hurt when a Walmart big rig collided with his limo. One party in his limo passed away. After an investigation, it was determined that the truck driver was sleep-deprived. The driver was criminally charged, and Tracy Morgan sued Walmart. Congress then decided to suspend this new law before proceeding.

Federal Government Authorizes Research on Truck Driver Sleep Schedules

Given the push and pull from both sides, the federal government has commissioned an in-depth study into truck driver fatigue, to be performed by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. At the center of the research lies the question ā€“ is it dangerous to give truck drivers the freedom to set their own sleep schedules?

As part of the study, Virginia Tech will follow 200+ truck drivers who will be allowed to set their own sleep schedules as part of the experiment. When a driver volunteers to participate, cameras will be installed in his cab by SmartDrive that will record what he does while driving, including whether he appears drowsy. In addition, a wristband similar to a Fitbit will be worn by the driver that tracks when and how long the driver sleeps. The study will hopefully provide objective data to Congress about whether more freedom would lead to more trucking accidents.

Contact the Edward A Smith Law Offices

Iā€™m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Truck Accident Attorney, with the primary accident information site on the web,

If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury during a trucking accident caused by driver fatigue, call me now at (916) 921-6400 in Sacramento or at (800) 404-5400 toll-free for fast, friendly advice.

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