When driving in Pennsylvania, a driver’s worst nightmare is crossing paths with a sleepy truck driver. Truckers often drive for long hours on monotonous routes. Not surprisingly, many of them may nod off or fall asleep. When this happens, they may plow into a parked car at a red light or into oncoming traffic on a rural highway.
To combat this growing problem and provide better work conditions, the Obama administration put laws in place to restrict a truck driver’s consecutive hours behind the wheel. NPR reported in 2017 that truckers protested the use of electronic logging devices recommended to track this. These devices replaced log books that formerly allowed truckers to manually enter sleep and travel hours.
Fudging the numbers account for some of the deadliest crashes involving trucks in America. One such accident involved both drivers potentially falling asleep at the wheel. The truck driver fell asleep during a traffic stop and a bus driver, who may have also fallen asleep at the wheel, crashed into the back of the truck. The crash injured 31 people and killed 13 others.
The Obama administration also pushed for drivers to get screened for sleep apnea, which may negatively affect a person’s sleep quality and cause sleepiness during daytime hours. The Trump administration pulled this rule back, causing more people to worry about the condition of commercial drivers.
In 2019, MarketWatch reported that the Transportation Department will offer more relaxations of the laws in place. Highway safety advocates warn that this may cause accidents involving sleepy truck drivers to spike. For instance, in 2017, fatal crashes involving trucks increased by 10%. While most people agree there should be some flexibility, such as in instances where drivers are five minutes from home, too much leeway could bring the problem right back to square one.
On behalf of Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C. posted in Truck Accidents on Friday, October 4, 2019.