We have probably all experienced it ourselves: being tired while behind the wheel. Although many of us realize being sleepy while driving is dangerous, many of us are reluctant to pull over and rest when it happens to us. The danger of driving fatigue is multiplied when the driver behind the wheel is a commercial truck driver. One woman who recently lost her husband to an accident caused by a truck driver who fell asleep is bringing attention to the issue while the trucking industry fights rest regulations.
This past summer, the woman's husband was driving on the interstate when an 18-wheeler came across the median and hit him head-on. The commercial driver behind the wheel of the tractor-trailer had fallen asleep while driving. The woman's husband, like so many others, was likely not aware of the danger of an oncoming driver who was tired. Every year around 5,200 people are killed in traffic accidents caused by fatigue.
As many as one out of three commercial drivers get behind the wheel when tired, but despite the danger the trucking industry is challenging new regulations on truck driver rest requirements. Particularly, the trucking industry is challenging a 34-hour rest period requirement.
The 34-hour rest period requires commercial truck drivers to be off work two nights in a row. The rest period is referred to as the “restart period” by the trucking industry because the extended break resets work time limits for truckers. The trucking industry opposes the regulation because it believes the concern over driving hours is misplaced. The industry trade group, American Trucking Associations, says speeding causes more accidents and fatalities every year than driving fatigue. The industry says it is willing to get behind measures that would help regulate speeds, including the installation of speed-limit devices.
Recently, commercial truck-related fatalities have increased. Truck-related fatalities increased by 8.7 percent from 2009 to 2010 and rose from 3,380 to 3,675.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a traffic accident, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal choices.