Trucking companies push back against drowsy driving rules


With its crisscrossing freeways connecting a number of important commercial hubs, Georgia is a hotspot for semi traffic. This is especially true in the Atlanta area, where Interstates 85, 75 and 20 converge. Unfortunately, while semi trucks are an essential part of everyday commerce, they can also pose a serious safety threat to others on the road – especially when truckers fall asleep at the wheel.

Federal safety regulators have been trying for decades to tackle the problem of drowsy driving among truckers, with limited success. One major complication is an underlying conflict of interest within the trucking industry; because any delays can drive down profits for trucking companies and drivers, there is a disincentive to stop and rest.

However, there is no disputing the fact that drowsy driving presents a serious safety risk, especially when it involves trucks weighing up to 80,000 pounds. The issue came back into the spotlight recently after comedian Tracy Morgan was critically injured in a crash with a Walmart truck. The driver of the truck reportedly had not slept in 24 hours.

Truckers critical of new hours-of-service limits

In an effort to prevent fatigue-related truck accidents, new regulations were put in place in 2013 to limit the number of hours that truckers can work without rest. Previously, truck drivers had been permitted to work up to 82 hours in a single workweek. The new rule lowered the limit to 70 hours per workweek and imposed a mandatory 34-hour rest period before drivers could restart the clock on a new workweek.

However, some trucking companies are pushing back against the new rules and are seeking to have the 82-hour limit reinstated. Some also oppose another aspect of the regulation that requires each 34-hour break to include two periods between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. – a measure intended to ensure that drivers get at least two nights of rest per week. Critics say that truckers should not be told when to rest, arguing that the rule puts more semis on the road during rush hour and deprives truckers of the flexibility they need to do their work.

To protect your rights, get help from a lawyer after a crash

If you or a family member has been hurt in a truck accident, it is important that you take steps to preserve your legal rights and protect your financial interests. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to obtain monetary compensation for your injuries and related expenses, including lost wages, medical bills and rehabilitation costs. Talk to a lawyer at your earliest opportunity to learn more about your rights and the legal options that are available to you.