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Trucking companies fight back against mandatory rest periods

Trucking regulations are hardly the topic of conversation in most Trenton homes, but a recent truck accident on the New Jersey turnpike has many people talking about truck safety. Famed comedian and actor Tracy Morgan was seriously injured when a Wal-Mart truck smashed into the back of his vehicle late last week. Another comedian in the limousine bus was killed in the crash.

One of the striking features of this accident is that the truck driver was severely fatigued, not having slept for 24 hours at the time of the crash. Although it is unclear if he had been working past the 14-hour limit or if he had been behind the wheel for longer than the federally mandated maximum of 11 hours, it is clear that he was tired. And that fatigue likely contributed to the crash.

Even though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that tired drivers cause a significant number of accidents every year, there are many trucking companies and industry representatives who are fighting against regulations that would give drivers more rest time. One such regulation is the requirement that truck drivers get 34 hours off after 60 hours of work.

Sadly, the Senate Appropriations Committee has taken the first step to suspend this regulation. Though it would require a vote by the full House and Senate, if it passes it will restore an 82-hour work week for truck drivers.

While it appears that this horrific accident is the fault of the driver, the trucking industry is not doing much to encourage safe driving by its drivers. It seems that the industry is more concerned with pushing its drivers further in an effort to turn a profit.

Source: The Washington Post, “Trucker in Tracy Morgan crash hadn’t slept for more than 24 hours,” Gail Sullivan, June 10, 2014

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