Are Truckers Getting Enough Rest? [POLL/AUDIO]
As Congress is considering rolling back truck driver safety rules, actor Tracy Morgan remains in critical condition after the vehicle he was traveling in on the New Jersey Turnpike was hit from behind by a tractor-trailer.
Another passenger was killed in the accident, and the driver of the truck told police he hadn't slept in at least 24 hours.
Dave Osiecki, an executive vice president with the American Trucking Associations, said there doesn't need to be a whole new set of rules to make trucking safer, but he thinks the so-called restart regulation -- forcing drivers to shift their weekly schedules and then restart their work week after a rest period of two consecutive nights -- should be rolled back.
He said the regulation is putting more big rigs on the road during the early morning, "when commuters are commuting to work, the school buses are on the roads, when traffic happens, that's a problem."
Osiecki said, under the old restart rule, safety improved and everyone liked it, but the new regulation is too restrictive.
"Over the past 10 years, truck drivers have driven the crash rate down," he said. "We're down 21 percent on our fatality involvement. It's safe and getting safer, and as long as we continue to adopt technology going forward, this industry will continue to thrive."
Tracy Noble, a spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said the important thing to remember is "drowsy driving could be equally as dangerous as distracted driving or drunk driving in the extreme situation."
She said when a driver doesn't get enough sleep, it's a dangerous situation.
"Your judgment is not there, your depth perception is not there," Noble said. "Drowsy driving is a very serious concern and it needs to be viewed as such. When you are driving a tractor-trailer carrying a load, the risk of death or injury certainly increases simply because of the weight."
She also said one serious concern is a lot of truck drivers are incentivized financially to travel a certain distance in a day.
"We need to remember," she said, "that cash incentives and making goals is not nearly as valuable as human life."