Beebe and O'Neil

Trucking legislation solves some issues, creates others

Connecticut drivers are likely no strangers to congested highways and the large percentage of tractor trailers and other transport vehicles on the road. They may also be familiar with the frequency of truck accidents caused by truck driver fatigue. Many experts warn that driver fatigue as a contributing factor in an accident is largely underreported as truck drivers who have been involved in an accident likely don't want to say anything that may imply they are at fault. Still, though, driver fatigue - reported or not - is implicated in countless deadly crashes each year. In a devastating highway crash in 2009, a 76-year-old trucker hit slowed and stopped traffic, killing 10 people. Police believed he had fallen asleep behind the wheel.

In order to help prevent some of these crashes from happening, legislation has been enacted that would limit the amount of time truckers are allowed to spend on the road. It establishes mandatory break periods as well. Many truckers push themselves to drive through drowsiness as more time behind the wheel ultimately equates to greater earnings. Opponents of the legislation, however, argued that truckers need maximum flexibility in their schedules, and that laws would be restrictive of that freedom.

The two sides were locked in debate, and opponents proposed a freeze on the potential laws to allow time for more studies. Previously, truckers relied on personal judgement and some laws pertaining to maximum hours per week to ensure they didn't drive onto roads too tired to be safe. With legislation, though, more trucks appeared on the road during rush hour, contributing to safety issues.

In cases where a person has been injured due to the negligence of a truck driver, it's possible that fatigued driving was a factor. Fatigued driving can cause tremendous personal damage, and those who have been injured may benefit from consulting an attorney. A lawyer with experience in personal injury may be able to assess the case and determine if pursuit of a settlement is feasible.

Source: The New York Times, "Truckers Resist Rules on Sleep, Despite Risks of Drowsy Driving", Jad Mouawad and Elizabeth A. Harris, June 16, 2014

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