The current presidential administration has expressed support for loosening the current restrictions governing commercial trucker drive times. While doing so would signal a win for the trucking industry, it could threaten public safety. Supporters of the proposed changes contend that it would give more control back to truck drivers and trucking companies, but safety advocates argue that deregulating the industry would lead to an increase in truck crashes.
According to the Los Angeles Times, fatal crashes involving commercial trucks are already on the rise: a 10% increase between 2016 and 2017. Loosening up regulations regarding how often truckers must stop and rest, safety advocates contend, would lead to more truckers driving while fatigued, and as a result, more wrecks.
Current trucker drive-time rules
Under current regulations, semitruck drivers can only log 11 hours of drive time for every 14 hours they are on duty, and they must take at least a 10-hour break before they can get back behind the wheel. Furthermore, drivers who plan to log at least eight consecutive hours behind the wheel must take a 30-minute break before hitting the eight-hour mark.
Should the proposed trucker drive-time rules change, truckers would be able to take breaks while remaining on duty, as long as they were not driving during the break period. Truckers would also be able to pause the 14-hour work shift for up to three hours, as long as they are not behind the wheel of their trucks when doing so.
Dangers associated with fatigued driving
Driving while fatigued is dangerous when anyone does it, but when the people driving while fatigued are also sitting at the controls of multi-ton semitrucks, the repercussions can prove even more deadly. Driving while drowsy or fatigued can affect many different areas of driver performance, including judgment, alertness and reaction time.
Whether these proposed trucker drive-time changes will ultimately take effect is not yet known. However, changing these rules and regulations could potentially threaten everyone on the nation’s roadways.