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Truck driver fatigue at issue in federal spending bill

Illinois residents share the roads with semi-trucks, and for some, this makes them nervous. After all, semi-trucks can weigh tens of thousands of pounds, making collisions with them especially catastrophic. Truck driver fatigue is an issue not just for truck drivers, but also for everyone on the road.

An alliance of public health and consumer safety group recently wrote to U.S. House of Representative and U.S. Senate with regards to the requirements for truck driver meal and rest breaks, due to a "dramatic" uptick in the number of truck collision injuries and fatalities. The specific change at issue would change the current 34-hour off-duty time truck drivers must take after driving 60 hours in seven days to "restart" this time period (or 70 hours in eight days).

The new change would make it so that each "restart" period contains two nights during which the truck driver cannot operate his or her vehicle between 1:00 and 5:00 in the morning. This "restart" period would be limited to once in seven days. All in all, the provision would limit a truck driver's ability to be on the road to 70 hours per week.

Safety advocates maintain that these changes are needed to ensure that the operators of semi-trucks get restorative sleep. However, the trucking industry claims that these provisions would make so that more truckers have to be on the streets and highways during the a.m. rush hour, which could lead to more truck accidents.

Whether these changes will ultimately be passed into law remains to be seen. Though, many would agree that any measures taken to increase trucker safety benefits not only the truckers, but also everyone else on the road.

That being said, should a person be injured in a collision caused by a tired trucker who has spent too many hours behind the wheel may want to explore whether they are able to take legal action against the responsible parties. A recovery could help a victim get their life back together after a truck accident.

Source: The Hill, "Safety groups renew battle over trucking riders," Melanie Zanona, Nov. 15, 2016

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