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What’s New in the Debate Over Rest Regulations for Truckers?

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It is commonly known that truckers without proper sleep or proper training can be some of the deadliest individuals on the road today. A new federal study is being conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute to determine if truckers will pose greater dangers on the road if they are allowed more flexibility with their sleep schedules.

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute signed a $2.5 million research contract with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in order to examine the behaviors of 200 long haul truck drivers who have been given freedom from the strict regulations associated with consecutive 8-hour sleeping requirements.

The past several years has brought trucker regulations to the forefront of the national conversation after incidents such as the 2014 accident in New Jersey that seriously hurt comedian Tracy Morgan. The truck driver who caused the wreck is alleged to have been sleep deprived. Just several months after that accident, a new provision of a law mandates that truckers stop for 34 hours after 70 straight hours of driving in a period of 8 consecutive days.

This amendment of the law changed the previous requirement, in which the 34 hours could contain two periods between 1 a.m. and 5a.m. and held truckers to only one 34-hour stop each week. Commercial truck operators have long resisted the requirements mandating adequate rest because of the schedules they claim they need to keep in order to get paid. It is expected that the study in question will not start until 2017. The project will involve a company from California known as SmartDrive, which will put cameras inside the cabs of long-haul trucks in order to capture footage of the road as well as the driver, and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, which will use electronic wristband units to measure the amount of sleep that drivers are ultimately getting.

Those individuals who support regulations for truck drivers to get adequate rest are primarily concerned about the dangers of drowsy driving. According to research, more than 30,000 people die on highways across the United States every single year, and crashes involving large vehicles such as these trucks are responsible for 1 in every 7 highway deaths, according to recent research from the New York Times.

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