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Study on Tired Truckers Part of New Transportation Legislation

12/4/2015
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A bill approved by federal lawmakers Dec. 3, 2015 calls for a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study on truck drivers’ long commutes and the safety hazards they present.

The $305-billion Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act demands the U.S. Department of Transportation agency, which has a mission of reducing injuries and fatalities involving tractor-trailers, to track workforce commutes of two hours or more and provide an analysis of them in 18 months. The section of legislation inserted into the potential new law is a direct result of the horrific crash that almost killed former Saturday Night Live cast member Tracy Morgan. It states:

“Section 5515 requires the Administrator of the FMCSA to conduct a study on the safety effects of a motor carrier operator commuting more than 150 minutes. On June 17, 2014, a tractor-trailer struck a van near Cranbury, New Jersey, killing one person and injuring several others. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the truck driver had been awake more than 24 hours at the time of the crash. In addition, the Georgia-based driver had driven 12 hours overnight to his job in Delaware before starting his shift. The study shall address the prevalence of long commutes in the industry and the impact on safety.”

Don't drive tired - road sign seen on the highway

Morgan still is recovering from a brain injury and broken bones, although he has made several recent television appearances and has plans to embark on a comedy tour in February 2016 called “Picking up the Pieces.” He and six others, including fellow funnyman James McNair – who died in the accident – were rear-ended on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Deaths resulting from tired truckers who have no business being on the road are all too common on American’s highways, even though the FMCSA has regulations in place that limit the number of hours drivers can sit behind the wheel. The Hours-of-Service Rules somehow are being violated, accident investigations reveal, and enforcement of them seems to be coming up short.

An approximate 4,000 motorists and passengers perish in tractor-trailer crashes each year, according to the U.S. DOT Web site, citing driver fatigue as the primary reason.

“Tragically, the truck drivers themselves sometimes die driving tired,” the Web site states.

Consumers can find tips on staying safe around 180-wheelers at Road Safe America, a nonprofit founded by the parents of a college-age man who died in a tractor-trailer wreck.

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