Fatigued driving becomes worrisome as hours of service regulations suspended for certain commercial truck drivers

Illinois residents know large commercial trucks on the road often pose a danger to drivers in passenger vehicles. That is why they may be interested in two new hours of service exemptions for certain commercial vehicle drivers. The exemptions went into effect on October 1st and, some say, increases the risk of auto accidents on the roadways caused by truck driver fatigue.

New exemptions

Regulations involving commercial vehicles are implemented and administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. They include hours of service, or HOS, requirements. The rules prohibit commercial drivers from driving more than a set amount of hours in a day. This is to reduce driver fatigue-a common problem of truck accidents today.

However, certain drivers are presently exempt from these HOS requirements. Commercial drivers who transport agricultural commodities and farm supplies, including farm and ranch operators as well as their employees, are exempt from the rules.

The reason for the exemptions is due to environmental factors and to facilitate efficient transportation of these supplies during planning and harvesting seasons.

Effect of exemptions

However, studies over the years have proven that fatigued driving is simply dangerous and increases the risk of trucking accidents.

In the late 80s, the largest most comprehensive study on driver fatigue was conducted in the U.S. The Driver Fatigue and Alertness Study (DFAS), as it’s known, studied commercial drivers and provided alarming information about a driver’s alertness, performance, psychological and subjective state during road trips.

In the early 90s, the Journal of Public Health Policy published an article entitled: “Long Hours and Fatigue: A Survey of Tractor-Trailer Drivers.” The survey interviewed over 1200 semi-trailer drivers at various truck stops in various states across the country.

About 31 percent of truck drivers admitted to driving over the required HOS laws. Additionally, 19 percent of drivers admitted to falling asleep at the wheel one or more times during the previous month. Further, two-thirds of drivers surveyed said they actually falsified log book hours during the previous year.

Consulting an attorney

Now, due to the exemptions, it’s more important than ever for all drivers to remain vigilant on the roadways. Limiting driving distractions and avoiding talking or texting while driving can substantially help drivers remain aware of hazardous situations, particularly those involving heavy trucks and potentially fatigued truck drivers.