Truck driver fatigue at issue for lawmakers and law enforcement

Federal bill could increase trucker hours from 70 to 82 hours per week

Although driver fatigue is implicated in 40 percent of truck accidents, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, an amendment to a federal bill could see truck drivers able to drive for longer hours, reports The Hill. The proposed legislation would raise the weekly limit truck drivers are allowed on the road from 70 hours to 82 hours. The news comes just as Illinois State Police say some truck drivers are forging their logs to cover up driving sessions that are longer than the legal limit.

Longer trucking hours

The amendment to the federal bill would increase the weekly limit truck drivers are allowed to be on the road from 70 to 82 hours. Currently, truckers are not allowed to drive more than 11 hours per day and 70 hours per week, a limit that was only recently introduced as a way of fighting truck driver fatigue.

Critics of the proposal cite a poll that has found 80 percent of the public is against increasing the number of hours truckers are allowed to be on the road. Other lawmakers have also criticized the amendment, saying it could put the public at risk and, if anything, what is needed is greater enforcement of the current limits.

Driver fatigue in Illinois

The issue of truck driver fatigue was recently highlighted by the Illinois State Police, who say some truck drivers are illegally forging their driving logs, according to WIFR News. Under pressure to make more money and meet strict deadlines, some truckers are recording shorter hours in their driving logs in order to disguise the fact that they have been driving for longer than is legally allowed. Police say they have issued truck drivers with over 1,000 citations so far this year because they were driving in excess of federally mandated limits.

In an effort to combat dishonest truckers, federal lawmakers have proposed making electronic logs mandatory in all large commercial vehicles. Electronic logs, because they record information automatically, are much more difficult to manipulate by a truck driver compared to manual logs.

Truck accidents

While driver fatigue is dangerous no matter what type of vehicle is being driven, when a tired driver is at the wheel of a large truck then the results can be particularly catastrophic. Accidents involving trucks tend to be very severe, and smaller vehicles often suffer extensive damage when hit by these much larger vehicles.

Anybody who has been injured in a truck accident should understand that such accidents pose unique challenges. Unlike with other types of motor vehicle accidents, a truck accident will often involve issues surrounding both the truck driver and truck company's liability as well as adherence to federal and state laws concerning the trucking industry. A personal injury attorney who understands how such cases work can provide expert legal guidance for victims moving ahead.