The controversy over limiting truck driver hours has been ongoing for over a decade at this point – with many heated opinions on both sides of the fence. Continued restrictions on driver hours has been put into effect as a means to prevent truck accidents. Yet many argue that these restrictions – like the 14-hour rule, for example – have actually worked to increase big rig accidents – not decrease them. Because of the way in which the rule works, some drivers feel this increases their risk of semi truck accidents.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) 14-hour rule for commercial truck drivers states that drivers may not drive beyond 14 hours once they have clocked in for the day, so they will have 10 hours of uninterrupted rest between driving shifts. This ruling is in conjunction to the 11-hour rule, which states that no driver may drive more than 11 hours consecutively.
Although these guidelines seem reasonable to help ensure that drivers are not putting in too many hours behind the wheel without getting enough rest, drivers actually living by the rule state otherwise. As it is written, the 14-hour service rule states that from the moment a driver logs in, to the moment that driver logs out again – more than 14 hours cannot pass. The problem is in relation to the amount of time that drivers spend not actually driving, but waiting, and doing other things. During these 14 hours, most drivers are waiting at weigh stations, or for loading and unloading, and many other things – all of which eats into that 14-hour window. This time affects carrier schedules profitability, as well as the drivers.
Then, when a driver needs to get off the road to nap, many feel pressured to keep driving to make up time. When permitted rest periods are shortened, or even denied while drivers are trying to meet schedules within the 14-hour period, a driver experiences fatigue. While this may seem like something that only affects drivers, in reality this problem creates a trickle effect that increases the chance of big rig accidents.
In spite of awareness efforts and truck safety laws, so many are still injured in truck wrecks annually.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year over an estimated 300,000 motor vehicle crashes that involve commercial trucks occur in the United States. Statistics also suggest that more than 100,000 truck crash injuries occur annually in addition to more than 3,000 related deaths. Over time, a number of laws and regulations have been put into effect to help reduce the massive number of big rig crashes that harm people each year; however, the numbers still remain unsettlingly high.
Dallas Texas truck wreck lawyer Angel Reyes suggests that truck drivers must recognize the risks involved in operating a commercial vehicle and take more steps to safely share the road with passenger vehicles. The truck crash lawyer says to help reduce accident risks truckers should:
- Refuse to drive with distractions – According to Angel Reyes, “commercial truck drivers should never risk letting distractions like mobile devices take their concentration and focus. It is never worth a phone call or text to put someone else’s life at risk.”
- Rid themselves of blind spots – “for so long commercial trucks have alleged that they have large blind spots, and it is not safe for them to ride along the side of smaller vehicles too closely,” Reyes said. However, there are mirrors truckers can easily purchase to rid themselves of potential blind spot hazards.”
- Obey speed limits and other laws – Speeding is one of the most commonly reported causes of major truck crashes, Reyes said. “It is imperative that truck drivers obey speed limits and use extra caution in construction areas and during inclement weather.”
Reyes Browne Reilley is a Dallas, Texas, based Martindale-Hubbell AV-Rated personal injury law firm, and continuously pushes for semi truck safety awareness and reform. Our Dallas personal injury lawyers have a nearly combined 100 years experience representing plaintiffs in personal injury, business, and dangerous prescription drug & device litigation. Call us today for a free consult to find out more.