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Hour limits, rest periods shown to decrease truck accident risks

It's likely that many South Carolina residents have experienced work-related stress at one point or another. After all, when an important deadline is fast approaching, people may feel enormous pressure to do whatever is necessary to complete a task. This is something many over-the-road truck drivers might also feel. In order to meet a strict delivery schedule, truckers may feel compelled to spend countless hours on the road in a single stretch.

In order to address the issues that accompany driver fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enforces sleep and schedule rules for truck drivers. Federal officials modified the rules in 2013 in order to promote safety and reduce the frequency of truck accidents. Not long ago, a study was released and showed that the new rules have produced a desirable effect.

Faculty at Washington State University's Sleep and Performance Research Center found that the newly mandated hour regulations have provided drivers with much-needed rest. With longer periods of rest, drivers included in the study experienced less fatigue, better attention spans and increased ability to maintain appropriate lane positioning. All of these findings could help limit the factors that can result in crashes.

The study included 106 truck drivers who participated for more than half a year. Drivers were asked to follow the new regulations, which include:

  • New duty cycles can last for a total of 60 or 70 hours over the course of seven or eight days
  • Rest cycles comprised of at least two "night periods" in order for the duty clock to reset

By encouraging more rest in between periods of work on the road, the hope is that drivers will have the energy they need to stay alert. Unfortunately, however, employers may exert influence on drivers to work more hours than allowed. As a result, driving logs may need to be manipulated. Not only does this kind of action show disregard for federal policy, but it also puts a number of other motorists in danger.

Source: Huffington Post, "New Safety Rules For Truck Drivers Effectively Reduce Fatigue," Feb. 3, 2014

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