Federal safety regulations are supposed to prohibit sleep-deprived truck drivers from getting behind the wheel, but many trucking companies still push their drivers to work with little to no sleep. When truckers try to complete their shifts without enough rest, the results can be dangerous. Property damage, injuries or even fatalities could result from fatigued truck drivers who cause accidents.
An investigation by USA Today has revealed that the trucking industry is rife with drivers who work grueling hours without adequate sleep. Indeed, its investigation suggests that sleep-deprived drivers may be a near-constant danger on American roadways.
An investigation’s scary findings
The news outlet’s reporters undertook a meticulous investigation of trucking companies and their drivers. Reporters examined the movements of thousands of truck drivers in California over a four-year period. Then, they calculated the amount of time that each truck driver had been on the road and compared the statistics to federal crash data. The investigation uncovered some alarming statistics.
- Although federal law mandates a 10-hour break every 14 hours, thousands of trucks stayed on the road without a break.
- These trucks were involved with nearly 200 crashes within one day on the clock.
- Some dispatch truckers have shifts that last up to 20 hours a day, six days a week.
- There were 580,000 examples of truckers spending at least 14 hours on the road without a break.
- Truck drivers are 50 percent more likely to break off-hours service rules than workers in other industries.
Holding trucking companies and truckers accountable
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has called for an investigation into the trucking industry’s practices. California Senator Dianne Feinstein denounced trucking companies that require fatigued drivers to work long hours. The state’s law enforcement agencies say that trucking companies have a legal obligation to know how many hours their drivers work, allow them to take federally mandated breaks and prevent them from driving without sufficient rest periods. Companies that fail to meet these obligations or truckers who deliberately violate safety standards may be liable for any accidents that they cause.