Will New Truck Safety Regulations Prevent Drowsy Driving Accidents?

Trucks accidents are some of the most devastating on the road, in large part due to the sheer size and weight of the vehicle. In 2011, more than 3,700 people were killed in large truck crashes, while 88,000 were injured, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

To improve truck safety, the federal government has been gradually strengthening its oversight over the industry. In July, new hours-of-service regulations took effect. The new rules restrict the average workweek for truck drivers to 70 hours and require divers to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift. The goal is to ensure that all truck operators have adequate rest before hitting the road.

While truck accidents can have a range of causes — from speeding to equipment failure — drowsy driving continues to be a top concern. It can slow reaction time, make drivers less attentive and impair decision-making, all of which are critical to safely operating an 18-wheeler or other large truck.

Research shows that truck drivers who work long shifts are particularly susceptible to drowsy driving crashes. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that the new hours-of-service requirements will save 19 lives and prevent approximately 1,400 crashes and 560 injuries each year.

To ensure compliance, the new rule requires trucking company to keep detailed and accurate logbooks. Truck carriers that allow drivers to exceed the hours-of-service requirements by more than three hours could be fined $11,000 per offense, and the drivers themselves could face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense.

In addition to improving road safety, the new rules will also be helpful truck accident victims that suspect drowsy driving may be to blame for their injuries. However, to make sure logbooks and other evidence is preserved, it is imperative to speak with an experienced New York personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

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