Those who operate commercial vehicles are governed by a completely different set of regulations than those who carry a regular Driver’s License. As intimidating as commercial vehicles might be, they are a necessity in today’s growing society. They transport produce, haul gravel and asphalt, and even are responsible for delivering packages and other vehicles. The list goes on and on when discussing the ways in which commercial vehicles are utilized. As you drive along the highway you find yourself in between two large commercial tractor trailers, scary, right? You wonder whether they see you switching lanes or whether they see you at all. Something else to think about is whether the driver has slept for an adequate amount of time. Not a normal question to ask a fellow motorist, right? As uncommon as that inquiry may be, it is very relevant and important when it has been reported that out of the 4,000 individuals that died in large truck crashes, 13 percent of the drivers involved were fatigued.
Fatigued driving is defined as operation of a motor vehicle while you are tired and/or sleepy. Driving while you are in a state of exhaustion has the potential to bring about serious injury. Driving while you are fatigued increases the chance that your driving skills are impaired. Due to irritability you may begin driving erratically, reaction time may be weakened, or your judgment may become affected. It is best to get adequate rest when in operation of a vehicle because an exhausted driver is as dangerous as an intoxicated one.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration discovered that the increase in crashes and fatality rates were slightly attributed to tired drivers. Most commercial drivers are compensated by the mile or by the load, therefore the longer you drive and the fewer breaks you take, the more money you are able to make.
- Drivers must take a 30 minute break within the first 8 hours of driving.
- There are slight differences between whether the vehicle is carrying property or passengers.
- Property Carrying Vehicle
- Drivers are prohibited from driving more than 11 hours after being on the job for 14 hours.
- The 3 hour allotment of time allows drivers to take the necessary brakes, conduct maintenance on the vehicle, or load/unload cargo
- Once a driver has worked 11-14 hours, they must be given 10 hours off
- Property Carrying Vehicle
- Passenger Carrying Vehicle
- Examples of these types of vehicles would be city buses, passenger vans, and school buses
- Drivers prohibited from driving for more than 10 hours after being on the job for 15 hours.
- Additionally FMCSA has decreased the mandatory weekly driving time to 70 hours.
FMCSA further reported that most of the commercial truck accidents that involve fatigued drivers are those drivers who have be awake for 36 hours straight. Seasoned driver argue that the regulation on times for breaks is ridiculous and unnecessary. However, the agency counters that with the data that suggests that this new implementation will save 19 lives per year. Aside from safety, experienced drivers argue that there must be communication between FMCSA and companies that receive deliveries. Often times if a driver is late he will be punished and the company will make him wait an additional 2 hours because of that fact. There can be several arguments made for both sides. The most important fact is that the safety of those on the road, whether they driver commercial or passenger vehicles, is vital. A well-rested, alert commercial vehicle driver could be the difference between life and death.