We cannot roll-back the Hours-of-Service rule and cause more deaths and injuries when saving lives should be first and foremost.” — Daphne Izer of Maine, whose 17-year-old son and three other teenagers were killed by a trucker who fell asleep at the wheel.
Fatal Crash Rates
While the rate of fatal crashes involving large trucks per 100 million vehicle miles traveled decreased each year from 2005 through 2009, it rose, along with increased demands for freight shipping, from 2009 through 2012.
Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation shows that in 2012 there were:
10,659,380 large trucks registered in the United States;
317,000 traffic crashes involving large trucks – an average of 6,100 each week, or 868 per day;
3,921 fatalities involving large truck crashes – an average of 75 per week, or 11 per day;
73,000 large truck injury crashes – an average of 1,400 per week, or 200 per day.
Driver fatigue is a leading factor in large truck crashes. The 2006 Large Truck Crash Causation Study reported that 13 percent of Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) drivers were considered to have been fatigued at the time of a serious crash.
The Revised Hours-of-Service rules from the FMCSA went into effect in July 2013 to reduce fatigue-related crashes and ensure that drivers get the rest they need to be alert, safe and awake when operating up to 80,000-pound vehicles on roads they share with the traveling public. The regulations reduce the maximum average work week for truckers to 70 hours from 82 hours and require them to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of their shift.
Analysis shows the revised rules:
Prevent approximately 1,400 crashes each year — saving 19 lives and avoiding 560 injuries;
Impact less than 15 percent of the truck driving population;
Provide $280 million in annual savings from fewer crashes and $470 million in annual savings from improved driver health (i.e., reduced mortality).
Scientific study of the 34-hour provision:
One of the largest naturalistic field studies to measure fatigue among commercial motor vehicle drivers provided further scientific evidence that the 34-hour restart provision in the current hours-of-service rule for truck drivers is more effective at combatting fatigue than the prior version.
Scientists who measured sleep, reaction time, sleepiness and driving performance found that drivers who began their work week with just one nighttime period of rest, as compared to the two nights in the updated 34-hour restart break:
Exhibited more lapses of attention, especially at night;
Reported greater sleepiness, especially toward the end of their duty periods; and
Showed increased lane deviation in the morning, afternoon and at night.
Working long daily and weekly hours on a continuing basis is associated with chronic fatigue, a high risk of crashes, and a number of serious chronic health conditions in drivers.
A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health survey found that 69 percent of truck drivers were obese and 54 percent smoked. Additionally, 88 percent of long-haul truck drivers reported having at least one risk factor (hypertension, smoking, and obesity) for chronic disease, compared to only 54 percent of the general U.S. adult working population: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/updates/upd-01-16-14.html.