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Relaxed HOS regulations should not change safety expectations

It may go without saying that driving in upstate New York can be difficult during this time of year. After all, we recently posted on how ice missiles that come off a semi truck’s trailer are hardly friendly to drivers following behind them. But snow covered hazards are probably the least of a driver’s worries. It is whether a truck driver is too sleepy to be behind the wheel.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatigued driving has been a problem for commercial drivers and individuals alike. 

Fatigue is a culprit in more than 100,000 crashes each year, and it is believed that drowsy driving is underreported. This is likely the reason why federal regulators implemented hours of service rules, so that the public may benefit from not having so many tired drivers on the road, which would ostensibly limit the number of accidents due to fatigue.

However, regulators recently approved a relaxation of the hours of service rules, so that drivers could work up to (and above) the 82 hour limit that was previously enforced. Regulators want to study whether the previous rule put too many trucks on the road a peak commuting hours; which leads to increased congestion on the roads, and increases the likelihood of accidents with passenger cars.

While the regulations have been relaxed, the safety expectations of truck drivers have not. Basically, they must be rested and alert enough to safely operate a truck and be able to handle the common hazards that come with winter weather, and errant drivers. 

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