With Trucker Safety Rules Suspended, Dangerous Behaviors Can Lead to More Accidents
In the wake of the virus outbreak, the U.S. Department of Transportation exempted a number of truck drivers from the hours-of-service rules, which were originally put in place in 1938 in order to decrease fatigued driving that resulted in a number of truck accidents every year, especially in Texas, which regularly experiences a significant amount of trucking traffic. The rules permit truckers to drive 11 hours within a 14-hour period, including a maximum of eight hours consecutively, before being required to take a 30-minute break. After that 14-hour period, truck drivers are also required to take a 10-hour break. This is because truck drivers have always been especially vulnerable to fatigue and drowsiness due to the type of shifts that they work and prolonged driving hours, and this poses a significant crash risk, with fatigue more than doubling crash risk.
In addition, according to a new study published in Safety Science, with hours of service rules suspended, many truck drivers will consume more caffeine to stay awake, which, in the long-term, is associated with more truck accidents. This is because, according to the study, the habitual use of caffeine interferes with sleep in the evening, which then results in increased fatigue and safety risks on the road.
Who Is Exempt from The Hours of Service Rules?
Only drivers delivering emergency personnel helping to manage the outbreak and supplies are exempt from the federal hours of service rules, which includes those delivering:
- Equipment, people, and supplies necessary for establishing and managing temporary housing and quarantine facilities related to the coronavirus
- Food for emergency restocking of stores
- Medical supplies and equipment necessary for diagnosing, testing, and treating the coronavirus
- People designated to provide emergency or medical services or by authorities for quarantine purposes
- Supplies such as masks, hand sanitizer, soap, disinfectants, and other products for the prevention of the spread of the coronavirus
Study Shows That High Caffeine Consumers Have Higher Crash Rates
According to the results of the study, high caffeine consumers (who consume more than five cups per day) were more likely to report:
- Poor sleep outcomes;
- Shorter sleep times;
- More daytimes sleepiness;
- More high risk obstructive sleep apnea;
- Negative health behaviors, such as alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, poor diet, and smoking;
- Poorer driving safety indicators, such as aggressive driving and negative emotions on the road; and
- Crash rates (27.8 percent compared to 21.6 percent in low caffeine consumers, who drank an average of one cup per day).
If You Have Been in a Truck Accident in Texas, Contact Our Houston Accident Attorneys
Accidents involving trucks can be extremely dangerous, and often result in debilitating injuries or death. If you or a loved one has been involved in an auto or truck accident here in Texas, Houston truck accident attorney Sue E. West is experienced in navigating these claims and can help ensure that you receive the compensation you need to get back on your feet and move forward. Contact our office to find out how we can help.