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New regulations aim to reduce trucking accidents

Historically the American trucking industry has been driven by a need to transport as many goods and products as possible in as little amount of time as possible. In recent years, strict deadlines and increased competition resulted in many truckers driving longer hours often without appropriate amounts of sleep. Trucker fatigue gained national attention as a rash of commercial vehicle accidents were reported in Ohio and around the country.

In an attempt to curb accidents related to truck driver fatigue, the federal government has imposed new regulations on the trucking industry that will go into effect next July. Among the provisions included in the new regulations are restrictions on how many hours a driver of a commercial vehicle can be behind the wheel as well as mandatory rest hours.

Under the new regulations truckers will be allowed to work a maximum of 70 hours. This is a twelve hour reduction from the previous weekly maximum work hours of 82. Additionally, while a driver will be allowed to work up to 11 hours per day, they must abide by a mandatory rest period once they reach the weekly 70 hour weekly limit.

While some within the trucking industry have criticized the new regulations, citing them as being too restrictive, others argue they aren't restrictive enough. In addition to the new regulations, some transportation safety officials believe truck drivers should undergo training and education related to the effects of fatigue as well as be required to install monitoring devices in their cabs.

Accidents involving large commercial trucks often result in serious or fatal accidents. Safety officials, however, are hopeful that these new regulations will go a long way to improving truck driver safety and changing the trucking culture as a whole.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "Truckers face new sleep, rest rules," Stephanie M. Leen, Sept. 4, 2012

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