Should Truck Drivers Have Flexible Sleep Regulations?

Photo of truck accidentThe recent indictment of the truck driver who caused an accident that severely injured comedian Tracy Morgan has drawn a lot of attention to the issue of fatigued truck drivers. This attention prompted a federal study that will monitor sleeping habits of truck drivers to determine whether the drivers should have more flexible sleep regulations.

The current law mandates truck drivers receive 10 hours of sleep in between when they stop driving and when the start again. However, drivers are often under pressure by their employers to deliver their loads on unreasonably short deadlines. This often means drivers spend more hours on the road and less time catching up on very valuable sleep, which is a huge safety risk to everyone on the road.

Will Allowing Truck Drivers to Make Their Own Sleep Schedules Be More Dangerous?

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute signed a $2.5 million agreement with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to conduct a study which may help determine if truck drivers are more dangerous on the road when they are allowed to set their own sleep schedules.

The study will observe 200 commercial truck drivers for a three-month period. SmartDrive Systems will place cameras inside the trucks to record both the driver and the road. Each driver will also be given a wristband to monitor how much sleep they receive. If the driver swerves, the camera will turn itself on and film both the driver (to see if his or her eyes were closed for any period of time) and the road (to determine if the driver was swerving due to fatigue or other circumstances).

Almost 4,000 people die every year due to truck accidents, many of which are caused by driver fatigue. Past research has shown that sleep deprivation affects truck drivers similarly to alcohol, such as increased reaction time and impaired judgement.

Most drivers seem to agree amending the law to allow for more flexible sleep schedules will improve safety on the roads. However, some drivers ignore the current laws regulating rest times anyway, such as the truck driver who didn’t sleep for 28 hours and injured Tracy Morgan as a result. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is rather vague about whether it will amend the law based on the results of the study.

The personal injury attorneys at Spevack Law Firm work to help victims of truck driving accidents in the Iselin, New Brunswick and Teaneck areas.


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