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Just how serious of an issue is truck driver fatigue?

Most people who have spent any amount of time on New Jersey roadways would agree that there are more commercial trucks on the road than ever before. Besides being intimidating for their size, commercial trucks pose a real danger to smaller vehicles, as they are increasingly difficult to navigate around and are generally less responsive in incidents involving unexpected obstacles and/or collisions. The fact that commercial vehicles place motorists at a higher risk of being involved in accident incidents is only made worse by evidence suggesting that truck drivers contribute significantly to road dangers.

The U.S. Department of Transportation discusses truck driver fatigue and explains that it is a major issue. Every year across the country, it is estimated that around 4,000 people are killed in truck accidents. Beyond that, truck driver fatigue is recognized as a primary factor in fatal commercial truck collisions. It is for that reason that state and federal road safety agencies attempt to regulate the hours that truck drivers spend on the road.

Efforts to cut down on truck driver fatigue and commercial truck accidents everywhere concentrate largely on mandating rest periods for commercial truck drivers. In 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration introduced updated guidelines for truck driver hours of service. The new rules required truck drivers to take specific rest periods during and between work shifts. In addition to mandating one 30-minute rest period during the course of an eight hour shift, the FMCSA required drivers to take at least 34 hours off every seven days, including at least two rest periods between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.. These mandates were largely in response to findings that many truck drivers were working up to 82-hour workweeks. Under the updated hours of service guidelines, most truck drivers were prohibited from working more than 70 hours in one week.

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