The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced that they will continue to allow truck drivers to operate their vehicles for up to 11 straight hours. Citing a record low fatality rate per vehicle miles travelled and an estimate that only 7% of all large truck accidents are fatigue related, the FMCSA snubbed a Court of Appeals decision.
Academic studies, however, tell a very different story about driver fatigue. Dr. Paul Jovanis, a professor of civil engineering at Penn State, found that the rate of accident increases tremendously in the ninth, tenth, and eleventh hour that the driver is on the road. In fact, Jovanis found that accidents are more than twice as likely to occur in the driver’s tenth hour, than in his first.
Only three months ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down an 11 hour driving limit and 34 hour restart period, stating that the FMCSA had not adequately explained the reasons behind giving truckers the extra hour.
The FMCSA is also working to develop a way that hours of service may be recorded electronically. This will prevent drivers from squeezing in extra hours.