The recent truck versus car collision involving comedian Tracy Morgan is putting the spotlight on the trucking industry’s push to allow truck drivers more hours behind the wheel, and has resulted in some convincing push back from safety advocates.
The New Jersey accident killed Morgan’s passenger, and injured four others when Morgan and his passengers were riding in a limousine on the New Jersey Turnpike. The truck driver, driving a Wal-Mart owned truck, struck the limousine, and investigators documented that this driver, awake for 24 hours, had caused two close calls prior to the collision with the Morgan limousine.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates interstate trucking, and has documented driver fatigue as the leading cause of large truck crashes. Since 2009, fatal truck crashes are up 16%. However, historically, the rates have been much higher, with more than 4000 fatal truck crashes every year but one between 1990 and 2007.
Current Federal rules allow a truck driver to work a 14 hour shift with 11 hours of driving. Recent rules limited the average work week to 70 hours, but Congress recently allowed an increased 82 hours week. The trucking industry’s arguments to raise the 70 hour limit sound familiar. First, it’s costing the industry money, and second, there is no science supporting the need for a mere 70 hour work week. Safety advocates respond in kind, challenging the trucking industry to prove that allowing a trucker to work 82 hours a week is actually safe. Somewhere in this argument is common sense.
Drive time limits are not the only standards that come into play with large truck collisions. Regulations address required equipment, training, and driver qualifications.
If you have been involved in a collision involving a commercial vehicle or large truck, contact us at 503-325-8600. We have extensive experience representing clients injured in collisions involving large trucks, and can answer your questions.