Truckers typically get paid per mile that they drive, which gives them an incentive to drive as many miles as they can in a day. Many of these truckers have families to support and bills to pay, so it’s natural to that many of them might want to sacrifice some sleep in order to earn more money. The problem is that by sacrificing sleep, the trucker will get tired and the truck then becomes 40 ton danger going around 70 miles an hour, potentially causing personal injury.
From an article in the Bangor Daily News, it’s obvious that no one could know the dangers more than a group of Maine parents who lost their children in a truck accident. The organization they started, Parents Against Tired Trucking, has lobbied for more trucker safety and have seen a lot of success. Their efforts are responsible for the rumble strips found on the nation’s interstates, waking up drivers who swerve out of their lane. They’ve also helped establish the upcoming mandate that truckers start using electronic logging devices, instead of the pencil and paper logs that have been used.
These electronic logging devices should help to curb log errors and log manipulation. The president of the American Trucking Association (ATA) agrees, saying that these devices will force the “bad actors” to change or “get off the road” and reduce the number of RI truck accidents.
While these devices will help, they won’t solve the problem of tired trucking. Sometimes, the truckers are tired because of health issues that prevent them from getting restful sleep. One such health issue is sleep apnea, a breathing disorder that disrupts sleep and can lead to exhaustion during the day. According to The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), up to 28% of commercial drivers have the “highly treatable” disorder.
Bloomberg reported that the FMCSA had indicated that it would issue agency guidance—informal regulation—on when a trucker should be tested for sleep apnea. The ATA was opposed to sleep apnea tests becoming required through such guidance and pushed the government to sign a law that such a test can only be regulated through a formal rulemaking process, not simply through agency guidance. Accordingly, the answer to the question of when a trucker should be tested for sleep apnea will not come quickly.
So while the dangers of tired truckers have been reduced, they have not been eliminated. The best RI car accident lawyer knows it’s important to stay alert when driving near trucks. Even if they’re following the rules and getting a full eight hours of sleep, if they have health issues affecting their sleep, they shouldn’t be driving untreated.