Caution: Tired Truck Drivers at Work!

by Jim Orr

Many people thought the government would soon be imposing a new 10 “hours-of-service” limit on commercial truck drivers, but unfortunately the limit has been left at 11 hours. According to safety advocates, the trucking industry lobbied very heavily last year against any rule changes that would shorten the maximum time a truck driver can work. Trucking companies argue the shorter hours would force them to rework routes and hire more drivers. Of course, “more drivers” would mean more rested, alert and safe drivers.

More Accidents in Fewer Miles?

Despite a slight decline in the total number of miles driven by trucks in 2010, the number of crashes in 2010 involving trucks increased by almost 10%!  This indicates that trucking companies may be combatting reduced workload by pressuring drivers to travel farther in less time, resulting in more truck accidents.

The number of truck-related crash fatalities in 2010 also increased – by 8.7% to 3,675. The data, which includes trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds, was released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) earlier this year.

When trucking companies fight so hard against just one more hour of rest, you realize that these companies apparently think its cheaper to crash into us—no matter the consequences—than to pay for a rested, alert and safe workforce.

You can read a summary of the federal “hours-of-service” regulations for commercial truck drivers here.