The trucking industry has a big problem. Orders and shipments are growing (especially around the holiday season), but the driver shortage gets bigger and bigger. To fulfill all these orders, trucking companies need to make the most of what they have, and that means truck drivers are, on average, working longer hours. But are truck drivers working too long, and could that lead to more crashes? Let’s take a closer look.
Rules and Regulations
In the United States, truck drivers have “Hours of Service (HoS)” regulations that limit the number of hours they can work in a week. Currently, a truck driver can operate their vehicles for a maximum of 11 hours before they are required to take a 10-hour break.
This is further restricted by a limit of 14-hours worked in a 24-hour period. As an additional restriction, truck drivers cannot drive more than 60 hours in 7 days or 70 hours in 8 days.
The rules above are supposed to make sure truck drivers are well-rested while working; after all, 11-hours per day is the maximum limit, not the average. This increase in shipping demand, combined with the shortage in truck drivers means a truck driver’s average time behind the wheel is increasing. Moreover, an increasing number of drivers find themselves putting in their maximum number of hours each week instead of a number they are more comfortable with.
Additionally, some truck drivers feel pressured by management to go beyond their comfort zone or even their maximum hours of services, which can lead truck drivers to become stressed and fatigued at the wheel.
For example, say a truck driver is caught in a traffic jam and falls an hour behind. Their supervisor might pressure them into making up that time, asking them to reach a particular destination regardless of hours worked or the driver’s physical and mental fatigue.
This is becoming more common, and data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) suggests that the resulting driver fatigue could be a significant contributing factor to both driver fatigue and truck driver drug violations. Other studies have found similar results, revealing that more truck drivers are facing intense pressure to drive beyond the point of exhaustion or else miss their hours.
When this happens, the truck driver isn’t the only one who suffers. If a truck driver were to fall asleep at the wheel or give in to highway hypnosis, the results could be catastrophic.
When someone is injured or killed in a truck crash, they and their families have a right to pursue justice. If you or someone you love have been injured and need help moving forward, our team is here for you. To discuss your case with an experienced Shreveport truck accident attorney from Morris & Dewett Injury Lawyers, don’t hesitate to send us an email or call (318) 221-1508 today.