The Transportation Department is considering proposals that would loosen federal regulations regarding how long a semi-truck driver may operate their vehicle before taking a rest break. While some in the industry see this as a positive move, others in Burlington County may be concerned that easing regulations could lead to truck driver fatigue and, subsequently, truck accidents caused by drowsy driving.
Under current regulations, truckers can only be on duty for up to 14 hours before taking a 10-hour rest break, and they cannot drive for more than 11 of those 14 hours. Also, if a trucker is planning to drive for over eight hours, they must take a 30-minute rest break before that eight hours is up.
In addition, two U.S. senators want to cap the speed at which heavy trucks can drive at 65 mph. The senators stated that the law would automatically be enforceable through speed-limiting software that already exists. It is hoped that this measure would reduce the number of deadly truck accidents in our nation.
It remains to be seen how laws and regulations regarding the operation of semitrailers will change. However, as things currently stand, truck driver fatigue and speeding are very real dangers that causes many truck accidents. If a trucker is incentivized to make deliveries as quickly as possible, they may decide to drive over the posted speed limit or drive even if they are tired. Either of these behaviors breach their legal duty to drive in a manner that is safe for all on the road. If this breach causes a truck accident that injures or kills another person, the truck driver and possibly his or her employer could be held responsible in a subsequent legal action.