Posted On: December 10, 2006 by Christopher T. Hurley

Trucker fatigue and highway safety

In a Sunday Chicago Tribune article by Stephen Franklin and Darnell Little, the authors connect truck driver fatigue to the increased risk of serious highway accidents.

1. More than 5,000 people die and 116,000 are injured yearly in truck-related accidents, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

2. Truckers do not escape being victims; 930 were killed in the U.S. while working last year, up 33 percent from 1992. And while they made up only 2 percent of the workforce last year they accounted for more than 16 percent of fatal workplace injuries.

3. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has acted to protect the interests of the trucking industry. In 2003 FMCSA issued a rule that actually expanded truckers' allowable daily driving time to 11 hours from 10, which helps corporate trucking firms cut costs, but leads to more truck driver fatigue.

4. Since 1980, when the federal government deregulated the trucking industry, the rate of union membership among truckers has fallen from 90% to 10%. These non-union, low paid and inexperienced truck drivers must driver longer hours for less pay, leading to increased risk of trucking-related highway collisions.


Thus, the trucking industry, and profit-minded trucking corporations, bear legal responsibility when they push their drivers to take risks and to become fatigued, leading to fatalities on our highways.

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