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Federal truck drivers' hours challenged by lawmakers

As most Seattle residents know, the trucking industry is necessary for the comfort and well-being of people across the country. If not for the big rigs that make their way across America's highways every day, people would have far less access to products that they take for granted. However, there is a dangerous side to the trucking industry. In 2015, 42 people were killed in large truck accidents in Washington State, according to statistics by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Fatigue due to long driving hours is a major factor in serious truck crashes.

Currently, the federal government mandates that truck drivers get two consecutive nights of rest after working 75 hours in a week. This law was meant to reduce severe fatigue common to truckers, many of whom attempt to log a large number of hours and get to their destinations faster. However, after a recent spending bill, the government has suspended these regulations and it is unknown whether these changes will be permanent.

Advocates for traffic safety are worried that more regulations will be rolled back after the Obama Administration changes hands. They say that those who support trucking companies are more concerned about cost than they are about safety. Meanwhile, the American Trucking Associations insists that interstate truckers should operate under a uniform federal rule regarding work hours, rather than each state having additional laws on rest breaks. The group plans to attempt to block proposed state laws on the subject.

Regardless of each side’s opinion on trucker hour regulations, the fact remains that truck driver fatigue is a serious issue. If truck drivers were able to operate on an adequate, regular sleep schedule, fatal accidents may be avoided.

Source: CNBC, "Rollback of truck safety rules may be just the beginning," Dec. 8, 2016

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