Have you seen more truck drivers yawning while driving lately? Earlier this month, the president signed into law the most recent federal appropriations bill. Many lawmakers took advantage of several political and timing opportunities provided by this bill’s process and tucked pet projects into the depths of the law. One of these pet projects advanced by Sen. Susan Collins involves rolling back certain trucking regulations initiated by the Department of Transportation in the summer of 2013.
When the president signed the appropriations bill into law, he also signed this rollback into law. The rollback allows truck drivers to avoid many regulations designed to ensure that they are well-rested before operating their vehicles. Although the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Administration is now required to study the rollback and the effect of the now defunct provisions on road safety, it is now more likely that truck accidents will occur as a result of drowsy commercial truck drivers than it was when the regulations were still in effect.
Hopefully, the FMCSA’s studies will prove that the restart and rest provisions put into place during the summer of 2013 are still necessary. And hopefully, Congress will respect this conclusion and reinstate the rest and restart regulations that were just rolled back. Until then, be extra cautious when driving around large commercial trucks, as it is very possible that the drivers of these trucks are dangerously tired.
And truck drivers, please remember that just because you are not required to be well-rested when operating your vehicles does not mean that you should not be well-rested. Take care of yourself in order to better ensure your own safety and the safety of those around you.
Source: The New York Times, “More Drowsy, Overworked Truck Drivers,” Dorothy J. Samuels, Dec. 9, 2014