New Mandate Aims to Prevent Florida Fatigued Trucking Crashes
There is a substantial risk of trucking accidents in Florida when truck drivers fail to get enough rest. Drowsy driving can result in impairments similar to drunk driving. According to Drowsy Driving.org, fatigue can affect motor skills, cognitive ability, and judgment. A tired truck driver could nod off at the wheel and lose complete control over his vehicle or could be slower to react and unable to stop the truck in time to avoid hitting people, vehicles, or other obstacles located in the path of his big rig.
Recognizing the extreme dangers that can result from over-tired truckers operating vehicles, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) includes hours-of-service rules in Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). Most truckers nationwide must follow these rules. Unfortunately, there are still fatigued driving truck accidents- in part because truck drivers do not always follow the requirements when it comes to limiting their drive time.
The hours-of-service rules limit weekly hours driven and require a 34-hour restart period to allow drivers to rest before they can begin driving again. Hours-of-service rules also prohibit drivers from operating their truck for more than 11 hours total over the course of a day, or from being on duty more than 14 hours total in a single day. After eight hours of driving, most truckers are also required to take a 30 minute rest break.
The way these rules are enforced is by drivers keeping paper logs of the time they are on duty. Of course, the obvious issue is that truckers can falsify these logs if they want to drive for longer periods or if their employers pressure them to violate hours-of-service rules in order to get shipments delivered on time.
To reduce the possible chances of truck drivers failing to keep adequate records, a new mandate was passed in 2015 to go into effect by December of 2017. The mandate will require the installation of electronic logging devices into trucks. Many large trucking companies already have these devices installed in their fleet, but now virtually all truckers will need them, except those who fall into narrow exceptions such as driving only a few days over the course of the month.
Reuters reports the new requirement for electronic logging will save around 26 lives each year and will reduce truck accident injuries by 562. Hundreds of people will be safer each year once the logs are installed and more drowsy driving truck accidents can be prevented. Regardless of any rules or new technologies, however, the responsibility for avoiding truck accidents will remain with truck drivers and every trucker should make it a point to stop driving as soon as he begins feeling fatigued so he does not endanger his own life or the lives of every other motorist on the road.