According to data collected by the United States Department of Transportation, there were more than 2.5 million large commercial trucks operating on U.S. roadways in 2014 alone. That number has likely risen due to the increased need for goods across the nation in the two years following the release of this data.
As the number of large commercial vehicles on our roadways increases, so too does the concern regarding the risk of accidents. Chief among these concerns involves fatigued driving, which is a common problem among long-haul truck drivers. Now, with changes having been suspended on federal hours of service rules, some are starting to wonder: How important is the hours of service regulation for truckers?
A look at the rationale for the hours of service regulation
In order to understand why we have federal rest rules, you need to understand what happens to your body when you go without sleep for extended periods of time. As the National Sleep Foundation explains in a facts and stats article, “being awake for 18 hours produce[s] an impairment equal to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05.”
The article goes on to point out that commercial truck drivers, particularly long-haul drivers, are more likely to fall asleep at the wheel and cause a crash because of their schedules and the routes they must drive.
What is the risk to other drivers?
Just like alcohol, fatigue causes our senses to dull, which can cause lapses in attention and make it more difficult for us to make effective cognitive reasoning decisions. As such, a driver is more likely to miss warning signs or obstacles that could cause their vehicle to collide with another.
When that vehicle is a truck, collisions are oftentimes catastrophic because of the truck’s size and weight. The average of a semi-truck in the U.S. is anywhere between 70 and 80 feet long with a legal weight restriction of 80,000 lbs or 40 tons. Because of these facts, commercial trucks need 40 percent more time to stop than the smaller vehicles, explains a Truckers Report info sheet.
The hours of service rule is important
Though some may disagree, the hours of service rule is in place to ensure the safety of everyone on the road, including truck drivers. Without these rest rules, trucking companies could ask their drivers to work longer hours, which could lead to fatigue and eventually serious or fatal accidents in the end.