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Trucker fatigue can put everyone on the road at risk

A large truck rumbling down the highway is a common sight, particularly in western Pennsylvania. What many people don’t realize is that injuries caused by truck crashes are on the rise.

Over a recent nine-year period, the number of truck crash injuries jumped 96%, while the number of truck crash fatalities increased by 41%, according to one safety group. In Pennsylvania specifically there were 803 fatalities in crashes that involved a large truck from 2011-15. One of the factors that regularly comes up in these incidents? Fatigue.

The current rules and regulations

The issue of tired truck drivers is well-known, and trucking companies and their drivers must adhere to strict federal regulations meant to minimize fatigue. For example, a driver can not log more than 11 hours of driving time within a 14-hour period. Once a driver hits that limit, they must take 10 hours off before beginning to drive again.

Commercial drivers are also limited to 70 hours of driving each week, with a minimum of 34 hours off after that before jumping back into the job. The goal is to ensure drivers are well-rested whenever they are behind the wheel.

Should the regulations change?

Amid the rising number of fatal crashes involving large trucks, there is often conversation about changing these requirements so truckers can drive more. Truckers say loosening these restrictions will offer more flexibility, allowing them to make the best choices while on the job.

Some experts worry it might lead to more crashes, particularly because many truck drivers are paid by the number of miles driven – meaning they may feel pressure to continue driving even if they’re tired. It’s a decision that puts both themselves and others on the road at risk and may result in a crash that causes serious injury or even death.

If that happens, commercial shipping companies often do everything they can to fight legal claims that may arise, such as a personal injury lawsuit if another driver was hurt in the crash. But it’s important someone injured in a trucking accident be rightfully compensated based on the facts of the case.

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