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New federal study aimed at allowing tired drivers rest

Driver fatigue and driver inattention as contributing factors in Texas highway accidents and deaths has been documented in previous blog posts on this site. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is preparing to undertake a study to determine if rules governing sleep periods for truck drivers should be modified to improve driver alertness and to reduce truck accidents.

Serious injuries can result when the driver of a fully-loaded 18-wheeler slams into the rear of a car that stopped due to highway congestion because the truck driver was slow to react. Just as serious and deadly is the head-on collision caused by a tired truck driver who crosses into oncoming traffic.

Federal trucking regulations recognize the dangers posed by huge trucks driven by inattentive truck drivers speeding along the nation's highways. Current regulations limit truck drivers to working 14 hours. The FMCSA study hopes to prove that flexible rules about sleep periods will improve driver alertness and cut down on fatigue.

Someone feeling the effects of truck driver fatigue could pull over to the side of the road to rest, but the rest period is deducted from the 14 hours. Current regulations make it difficult for drivers to take sleep breaks during the workday without losing time. This might contribute to negligence on the part of drivers who continue driving even though they are tired or having difficulty focusing on the road.

When Texas residents are injured in a semi truck accident, they might want to discuss the circumstances of their accident with an attorney to determine if negligence caused by truck driver fatigue or an inattentive truck driver might give them the right to seek compensation.

Source: Overdrive Online, "FMCSA planning to launch split-sleeper flexibility study," Todd Dills, Oct. 27, 2014

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