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Could relaxed truck drive time rules put Pennsylvanians at risk?

Recently, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that they plan to ease up on some of their strict driving time regulations. For many truck drivers, this seems like good news. However, reducing these regulations could put other motorists on Pennsylvania roads in danger. 

Currently, the regulations are strict

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration established specific time regulations that truck drivers must follow. For example, one rule states that truck drivers can only drive a maximum of 11 hours after being off duty and resting for 10 hours. 

Disregarding these regulations can have steep consequences for truck drivers. The PBS News article states that the rules are so strict, a Pennsylvania truck driver had to stop driving five minutes from his home so that he would not break the rules.

This is an extreme case, but these regulations help protect both truck drivers and motorists on the roads. They ensure that truck drivers stay awake and alert behind the wheel.

Relaxing these regulations could change that.

Driver fatigue is already a widespread issue

These driving time regulations strive to prevent truck drivers from driving drowsy. This is because driving drowsy is just as bad as driving drunk. When drivers are drowsy, they cannot pay attention to the road or react quickly enough to hazards or obstacles. Drowsy driving is a serious issue that causes an average of more than 40,000 injuries across the country each year.

Unfortunately, truck drivers are one of the groups that are most likely to drive drowsy. Nearly 13% of truck accidents involve fatigued drivers. Easing these regulations could lead truck drivers to drive longer, even if they are not at their best or most alert.

It is possible to reduce the risks of drowsy driving

Reducing these regulations likely will not help fix the already rampant problem of drowsy driving. However, there are ways that Lehigh Valley drivers can combat the risks of driver fatigue:

  • Stay alert behind the wheel
  • Look for drivers drifting in their lane
  • Get enough rest daily 
  • Always drive defensively, but especially in the early morning and late evening

Accidents involving tractor-trailers are almost always worse for drivers in smaller vehicles. So, it is critical for drivers to pay attention behind the wheel and be aware of the other drivers around them to avoid an accident.