Truck drivers in the United States are caught between a rock and a hard place it seems. Federal regulations require them, after a certain number of hours of service, to take mandatory rest breaks to avoid driver fatigue and a possible crash. But because of disappearing budgets in many states across the nation, many safe and legal truck stops have been shut down. This has forced truckers to find alternative rest areas, many times in unsafe areas that leave truckers' lives at risk.
Take for example the story of Michael Boeglin, a trucker who was killed when his truck was set fire to by suspected robbers during a rest break. His story has grabbed national attention because it illustrates the problem that is being created by the combination of hours of service rules and dwindling parking spaces. His story has sparked conversations among those in the trucking industry who are asking lawmakers to address the problem before anymore lives are lost.
Despite rising public concern about fatigued driving among truck drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration suspended new hours of service rules back in December. Even though the new rules would have bolstered rest rules and possibly reduced the number of fatigued driving accidents involving commercial vehicles, they were suspended because it was said that they were impacting truckers, such as forcing them to park in unsafe areas because no other parking was available.
After taking this into consideration, it would seem lawmakers are in just as much of a predicament as truck drivers.
There is no doubt among our Sacramento readers that rest rules for truck drivers should be a top concern for politicians. Fatigued driving is considered by many to be just as bad as drunk driving. Allowing such a danger to threaten public safety would be unacceptable for most.
But providing safe working conditions for truck drivers should also be a concern as well. The death of a truck driver because of unsafe conditions can just as easily lead to a personal injury lawsuit. Lawmakers simply have to find the balance between protecting the public and protecting truck drivers as well.
Sources: Overdrive, "Parking shortage hits the mainstream," Todd Dills, Jan. 27, 2015
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, "Hours of Service of Drivers," Dec. 17, 2014