In the aftermath of the crash that killed one comedian and severely injured Tracy Morgan, authorities have acknowledged that driver fatigue continues to be a frequent cause of trucking accidents. According to reports, the driver who caused the accident that injured Morgan had been awake for more than 28 hours at the time of the crash.
The statistics tell a harrowing story. On an annual basis, more than 5,000 people are killed in accidents involving commercial trucks, and another 150,000 are seriously injured. Truck accidents account for almost 25% of all traffic fatalities nationally. An accident involving a truck is twice as likely to involve three or more vehicles, and nearly all fatalities in truck-car accidents are passengers in the car. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that driver fatigue is a factor in at least one-third of all traffic fatalities.
Under federal regulations, commercial truck drivers are required to take scheduled breaks and may not be on the road more than a specific number of consecutive hours or for more than a specified number of hours in a 24-hour period. Current rules prohibit a driver from being behind the wheel more than 10 hours in a row without an eight hour break. This, unfortunately, means that a truck driver may be on the road for 16 hours in a 24 hour period.
Under a proposed revision to driver time regulations, drivers would not be able to spend as many hours on the road in a 24-hour period. The proposed rule would be based on a 24 hour clock and would mandate 9-12 continuous hours off the road every day. In addition, drivers would be required to take 2-3 hours of breaks in any given day.
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