State Laws Changed to Reduce Truck Driver Fatigue

Did you know that truck driver fatigue can be more dangerous than impaired driving, when it comes to the safe operation of any vehicle (including freight transport trucks).   The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCS) and the U.S. Department of Transportation, have moved to improve road safety, reduce loss, and protect drivers better, by focusing on limiting driving durations, to combat truck driver fatigue.

How the Problem Started

Historically, truckers have had the opportunity to earn a bonus, for a faster-than-scheduled delivery of cargo.  While the trucking industry designed these incentives to provide better, expedited shipment of goods and industrial materials, it became clear that a percentage of drivers were optimizing earnings, through unsafe driving practices.

This tendency nationwide, was reflected in the growing injury and loss statistics, from motor vehicle collisions involving transport trucks and other vehicles on American highways.

Drivers and cartage companies that violate new safety rules, can face penalties of up to $11,000.00 per violation, and be held further liable for damages and loss, in civil court, for abuses or negligent operating practices that contribute to accidents, due to driver fatigue.

The change industry wide was warranted.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, an average of 475,000 commercial trucks (weighing 10,000 pounds or more) are involved in crashes annually, in the United States.   Truck crashes account for over 5,000 fatalities per year, and over 140,000 injuries.

It is worth noting that in approximately 70% of the collision incidents (where loss or injury were involved), the driver at-fault, was not a commercial truck driver, but rather civilian drivers.  This has prompted more discussion on educational outreach to non-commercial drivers, regarding safe following distance, and vehicle handling around transport trucks.   In 22% of fatal crashes, excessive speed of other motor vehicles, was named as a contributing factor.

Legislative Changes at Federal and State Levels That Impact Hours of Operation for Truck Drivers

At the Federal level, significant legal changes and improved regulation of drivers hours began with the “Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015”, which was first passed on December 16, 2014.  In section 395.3 ( c ) of the act, the 34-hour restart rule of operation became enforced nationally, with individual States adding further highway safety legislation.

In the State of Texas, and Federally, transportation regulators are working hard to reduce the number of collisions between commercial trucks and vehicles on American highways.  At Canal Cartage, we are committed to being part of the solution, to create a quality reliable service to our commercial clients, while ensuring driver and public safety.

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