Articles Posted in Driver Fatigue

There are many federal rules in place designed to help truck drivers avoid fatigued driving. For example, there are rules limiting how long drivers can stay behind the wheel before they must take a break. Despite this, truck driver fatigue is still a cause of many trucking collisions in Hollywood and across Florida.

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There many reasons why truck driver fatigue happens. In some cases, drivers are given a financial incentive to drive further. They have deadlines and may face serious financial or career consequences if they don’t make deliveries on time. In other cases, trucking companies may give bonuses or other perks to drivers who meet or exceed deadlines. In addition, some drivers want to drive as much as possible in order to make a good wage.

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Many truck and car accidents in Hialeah and other Florida communities are caused by human error. Human error can involve failing to check blind spots, making a mistake when changing lanes, or braking suddenly.

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Drivers and other cars may make decisions that cause you to be involved in a trucking accident. For example, another car may swerve in front of a truck, causing the truck to slam on the brakes or shift lanes, potentially crashing into you. Another car may try to drive around a truck and crash into you if you are driving in front of the same vehicle. Drivers tailgating a truck may suddenly slam on the brakes, causing you to rear-end their vehicle if they break too suddenly.

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A lot has been written over the past few years about driver fatigue. Experts have noted that fatigue plays a role in many fatal truck accidents in Miami and other communities, even though the issue is preventable. Legislators have weighed in with many solutions for fighting driver fatigue. In fact, just this year the hours of service rules were changed to cut back the amount of time commercial truck drivers can stay on the road before they have to rest.

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One issue that often gets overlooked with truck driver fatigue is money. Truck drivers do not typically enjoy driving while tired and in many cases industry experts say that the problem is an economical one. That is, truck drivers are encouraged to drive longer hours and are financially motivated to do so. Many truck carriers pay by mile driven and the fastest truck drivers that travel the longest can often expect to get better pay.

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Fatigued driving is a known contributor to trucking collisions in Homestead, Miami, and other cities across the country. Many government studies and independent research studies have shown the huge impact that fatigue driving can have on response times and on driving safety. Truck drivers are especially vulnerable to fatigued driving because they work long hours and often need to make strict deadlines, which can mean that sleep falls by the wayside. It’s why federal rules require truck drivers to get adequate rest every day and every week.

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While safety advocates and Congress have looked at fatigued driving in big rigs and tractor trailers, it is important to keep in mind that tired truck drivers are not the only culprits. Passenger car drivers also drive fatigued and there are no rules requiring them to get adequate rest. According to a number of studies, fatigued car drivers, too, are contributing to trucking crashes.

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Fatigued driving in Hollywood and other communities is a serious problem, especially among truck drivers. Truck drivers have to cover large amounts of territory as part of their jobs and operate heavy trucks that can cause catastrophic injury if drivers lose control of their vehicles or fall asleep at the wheel. According to safety experts, however, driver fatigue continues to be a significant factor in many trucking collisions in Hollywood and other communities.

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In an effort to curb fatigued driving, federal rules have been established to limit the number of hours commercial drivers can stay on the road. Truck drivers must take a specific number of mandated rest breaks each week they work and must keep track of distances driven and hours rested in written logs. Drivers also trained to recognize and safely deal with fatigue on the road.

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There are many things that contribute to trucking accidents in Hollywood and other communities. Driver error, mechanical failure, and poor road design, for example, all contribute to their fair share of traffic crashes each year. However, one factor that causes many collisions is often overlooked: driver health.

The reality is that chronic health conditions can have a big impact on how safely truck drivers can handle their jobs. In addition, the very job itself can have a negative impact on health. The sedentary nature of the job, the stress of the job, and the fast food that is often available on the road can put drivers at risk for obesity, diabetes, cardiac issues, and other serious health concerns.

How Serious is the Problem?

Studies point out that truck drivers may have a higher risk for some health conditions. A study published the American Journal of Industrial Medicine concluded that 68.9 percent of truck drivers studies were obese and 17.4 percent were morbidly obese. In comparison, the general population has an obesity rate of 30.5 percent, with 7.3 of the country being morbidly obese. The same study found that truck drivers are twice as likely to be smokers when compared with the rest of the population and are more than twice as likely to suffer from diabetes. According to the study, truck drivers have a higher risk of psychiatric illness, back pain, and musculoskeletal problems. They are also more likely to get delayed treatment or lack access to treatment.

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Many laws have been passed over the past twenty years to address the issue of fatigue driving and truck accidents. However, what these laws do not address is the fact that truck driving as a job creates some risk factors that contribute to fatigued driving in Homestead and other communities. For example, truck drivers need to contend with:

1) Deadline-focused work. Truck drivers need to deliver their cargo by a specific time, and sometimes deadlines are tight.

In some cases, drivers may have a financial incentive to get to their destination on time or may even be worried about their jobs if they fail to make deadlines (no matter how unreasonable those deadlines are). If truck drivers are keeping an eye on the clock, they may not take the time to rest properly and may push themselves to keep going, even when they are tired.

2) Changing shift work. Some studies have shown that shift work can lead to fatigued driving and car collisions.

Truck drivers may be at risk because they may need to drive at different times of the day, even at night, when roadway crashes are more common. Drivers of bid rigs and tractor trailers may also need to work different shifts throughout the month, which creates an additional risk as drivers get used to a new schedule.

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A current debate about hours of service regulation rules is really a long-standing argument about how to best reduce the number of fatigued drivers on Fort Lauderdale roads and other roadways across the country. Earlier this year, new federal hours of service rules were passed which reduced the weekly hours long-haul truck drivers worked. The same changes also requires truck drivers to take nighttime rest breaks.

Some safety advocates say that the nighttime breaks are crucial to help prevent fatigued driving and resulting traffic crashes in Fort Lauderdale and other cities. They point to research that has shown shift work can lead to sleep issues and greater fatigue when compared with work that allows employees to sleep during regular night hours.

Critics Slam New Hours of Service Rules

Opponents of the hours of service changes, however, say that the mandatory nighttime rest breaks put too many commercial truck drivers on the road during rush hour – an increase in traffic that could contribute to roadway accidents in Fort Lauderdale and other cities. They also say that drivers should ultimately decide when they should rest.

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Fatigued driving leads to traffic crashes

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Trade groups such as the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) have spoken out against the new Hours of Service rules, saying that the new rules will not help fight fatigued driving and may actually contribute to the problem.

The new rules, among other things, limit commercial truck drivers to working no more than 14 hours per workday and also set limits on weekly work hours. On the surface, this seems like a good way to prevent fatigued driving in Davie and in communities across the country. The problem, according to OOIDA and other groups, is that the new rules are less flexible than previous regulations, which allowed drivers to take breaks when they needed to. Under the new rules, the groups say, drivers may have to max out their workday in bad weather or heavy traffic, preventing them from taking rests as needed because the 14-hour day cannot be extended.

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According to transportation officials, however, the problem is not with the new Hours of Service regulations, but rather with commercial drivers and transportation companies. When truck carriers create strict deadlines that no not allow for any breaks within 14 hour days or do not account for situations such as traffic or weather, they create problems because drivers do not have time to rest if they want to make their deadlines. Federal officials, however, have given no statements as to how this problem might be dealt with.

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There is no doubt that fatigued driving in Hollywood and across the country leads to trucking collisions. Each year, thousands of people are injured or killed in trucking collisions in Hollywood and across the nation because big rig drivers and tractor trailer drivers get behind the wheel when they are too tired to drive safely.

Even though the risks of fatigued driving are well-known, there is much disagreement as to how to address the issue. Earlier this year, new hours of service regulations were passed which would require different rests breaks and would lower maximum hours driven per week from 82 to 70. Safety advocates claimed that the hours of service rules did not go far enough and still allowed long-haul truckers to stay on the roads for much longer than may be safe.

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The trucking industry did not agree with the changes either, stating that the new rules require two rest periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. each week, which would put truck drivers back on the roads during morning rush hour, potentially creating the risk for more collisions. Some legislators are seeking an amendment through Senate that would freeze the new hours of service rules until more research could be done to determine the rules’ effect on roadway safety.

Trucking industry officials have also stated that giving long-haul drivers more flexibility about rest periods would be more conducive to sleep and rest between driving times. They have further argued that simply cutting back hours would lower productivity and put more trucks on the roads, which could increase the risk of motor vehicle collisions in Hollywood and other cities.

Even doing research about fatigued driving is difficult, in part because fatigue is challenging to measure and problematic to prove after the fact. A 1990 study by the Transportation Safety Board concluded that fatigued driving played a role in 182 commercial truck crashes studies. In a 2006 study, however, the Department of Transportation concluded that fatigued driving plays a role in 13% of trucking accidents.

While many experts focus on passing laws that would reduce fatigued driving and crashes, part of the problem with fatigued driving is that it can be so hard to legislate. A driver can technically obey the hours of service rules and still be a danger on the road. Drivers may be unable to sleep during their rest periods, for example, or may suffer from sleep disorders or health conditions that leave them fatigued even when they get the mandated number of rest breaks.

Clearly, passing new laws is not enough. What needs to change are attitudes. Rather than trying to simply state how many hours a driver must rest, more needs to be done to give drivers the tools needed to stay safe on the roads. This may mean providing more health services so that truck drivers can address any symptoms or problems before they become a hazard. It can also mean paying truck drivers well, even if they need to make a safer decision to take an unscheduled rest break due to fatigue. The way trucking is set up is that truck drivers are paid by cargo delivered and miles driven. There is a financial incentive to push past fatigue and keep driving.

What do you think? What needs to be done to help prevent fatigued driving from claiming more lives?

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