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Road time regulations changes could raise truck accident risk

Truckers in Ohio and across the nation are required to adhere to federal rules for how long they can spend on the road at various intervals. This is to ensure that drivers do not drive beyond a perceived safe duration so they can stay awake and alert and will not resort to pharmaceuticals to get their delivery to its destination faster. For a truck company and its drivers, these rules can hinder efficiency and there has long been a movement for federal regulators to be more flexible in how it mandates these hours.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is now taking steps to make it easier for drivers to spend more time driving. A concern among safety advocates is that this could increase truck crashes. Driving while drowsy is a worrisome issue. As the laws are currently written, drivers can drive for 11 hours out of 14 in when "on-duty."

If a driver is on the road for more than eight hours, it is necessary to take a half-hour break prior to the eighth hour. Drivers who are caught violating these mandates can be removed from service for at least one day. This will cost them money as they are generally paid per mile.

Studies show that there has been a rise in fatal truck accidents in vehicles weighing 80,000 pounds or more. There were more than 4,200 of these accidents in 2017. Injuries were reported in 344,000 accidents. That is a rise of 10 percent from the previous year. In 60 of the fatal accidents, drivers were either fatigued or asleep. Driving while drowsy is notoriously underreported.

The federal government is currently considering options to relax the regulations sowing the fear that drivers will no longer be required to rest at certain intervals and the danger of being in a truck accident because of a drowsy driver will increase. The possible changes are still in the planning stages and details are not available.

There are many reasons for a truck accident, including drivers who are under the influence, speeding, driving recklessly or because of a vehicle defect. Drowsy truck drivers are a concern, and with the potential DOT regulation rollback, drivers should be especially careful around trucks.

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