Once again, truck drivers working hours in the U.S. are gaining national attention due to media coverage of the recent New Jersey turnpike collision that injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed another person. On Tuesday of this week 6/17 a New York Times editorial was published reporting that truck drivers are still resisting the mandate regarding sleep, breaks and work hours.
According to federal officials, drowsy driving is a leading cause of highway fatalities and crashes. For this month alone, driver fatigue has been blamed in deadly accidents in Madison County, Ohio, Austin, Texas, and Marseilles, Illinois. It is estimated that over 30,000 people have died on the highways annually in the U.S. from crashes that involve large trucks.
The NYT reported that despite the emphasis of following rules on truckers needing to get ample rest before a work shift and by taking breaks to ensure that drowsy sleeping does not happen, commercial truck operators, for one, resisted following the rules as they argued that Washington cannot regulate one’s sleep.
Last year, federal rules have reduced the number of maximum workweek hours for truck drivers from 82 to 70. Drivers who have logged the maximum number are required to rest for 34 hours before starting another workweek. Moreover, it has been declared that drivers should not drive more than 11 hours a day and should have a 30-minute break in their work schedules.
On the other hand, it is to note that the trucking industry has not been receptive of the mandate. Moreover, the industry has said that truck drivers should instead be afforded maximum flexibility and should not be told when to take a rest.