Federal hours of service regulations restrict the amount of time that truck drivers in Georgia and around the country can remain behind the wheel before rest becomes mandatory, but they are often flouted. A 2010 study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health revealed that semi-tractor trailer drivers work far longer hours than individuals employed in other fields and routinely skirt the rules in order to complete their journeys.
Drowsy driving accidents
This worries lawmakers and road safety advocacy groups because fatigued drivers respond to emergency situations more slowly if they respond at all, and loaded tractor-trailers can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. When the Federal Motor carrier Safety Administration analyzed 963 truck accidents involving 1,123 tractor-trailers and 959 passenger vehicles, it discovered that 40% of the crashes were caused by drivers who were either asleep or not paying attention.
Truck drivers who wait hours for their trailers to be loaded or unloaded may become dangerously fatigued long before hours of service regulations require them to pull over. This is because delay time is often unpaid, which means truck drivers may choose not to include it when recording their hours. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, every 15 minutes of delay time increases the chances of an accident by about 6%. Other factors that contribute to truck driver fatigue include the monotonous nature of highway driving and the stresses of maneuvering large vehicles in dense urban environments.
The data seems to suggest that more rigorous enforcement of hours of service regulations is needed. This has become easier in recent years as trucking companies are now required to use electronic logging devices to keep track of driver hours. They can also take a proactive approach to the problem by installing systems in their vehicles that monitor drivers for signs of drowsiness.