A committee at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently prepared a report concerning fatigue in the trucking industry. The report called for greater research and analysis by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The conclusion was that there is insufficient information gathered concerning truck driver fatigue and its impact on highway safety and long-term health for truckers. The report also concluded that the lack of information is harming the FMCSA's ability to set rules concerning hours of service, medical certification and other regulations designed to combat drowsy driving.
Among the ten entries in the 2016 Most Wanted List of safety improvements put forth by the National Transportation Safety Board are four that potentially address the ability of truck drivers to operate their vehicles safely. The following goals are all known issues in the commercial trucking industry:
Fatigue is a serious issue for many drivers. Lack of sleep can cause a driver to make a number of driving errors, including drifting into the other lane and failing to take evasive action when traffic demands. For truck drivers, economic pressure can push them toward driving in a fatigued state. Hours-of-service regulations exist to encourage drivers to get adequate sleep and avoid truck accidents caused by sleepy drivers. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute has been commissioned to conduct a federal study into the impact of regulated sleep schedules.
Last week's tragic truck accident on Interstate 55 near Elwood has renewed concerns about log book practices and overworked drivers. The driver in that case is accused of falsifying his log book entry. His paper log book indicated he began working around 6-6:30 a.m. Investigators have uncovered evidence that he actually started work at around 2:30 a.m. If the allegation is true, it will likely increase the pressure on safety officials to accelerate the move to electronic record keeping.
Keeping hours-of-service records is a primary safety requirement for truck drivers and trucking companies. Truck drivers are required to log their hours and take rest breaks to avoid fatigue, which too often is a contributing factor in serious truck accidents.