Sharing the road with massive commercial trucks can be terrifying, especially if you're traveling at high speeds on a freeway or interstate. It only takes a momentary mistake or lapse in judgment by a commercial driver to cause a catastrophic crash that destroys smaller vehicles and leaves people severely injured or even dead. These vehicles can take a long time to stop and require more space to turn. They also have huge blind spots that prevent them from seeing everyone else nearby.
The size discrepancy between commercial vehicles and passenger vehicles is one of the major concerns in these crashes. Roughly 97 percent of fatalities in crashes between commercial and passenger vehicles are the people in the smaller vehicles. In other words, when commercial drivers cause a crash, they almost never pay the price directly. This can lead to questionable decision-making about driving, including deciding to drive past the point of exhaustion.
Exhausted drivers are a risk on the road
Anyone who gets behind the wheel without being adequately rested could cause a crash. Feeling tired does more than impact your mood. It can increase your reaction time to changing situations on the road and can make it harder for you to focus on the task on hand.
Commercial truckers have even more incentive than the average person to drive while exhausted. Some companies offer bonuses for on-time delivery, while others pay more per mile for truckers who regularly reach their destination on schedule. If bad weather or heavy traffic leave a commercial driver behind schedule, he or she may feel tempted to drive past the legal Hours of Service to make up lost time. Exhaustion at the wheel of a commercial truck could prove deadly, however.
New logging requirements aim to phase out lying, rule-breaking
Currently, there's a culture of "don't ask, don't tell" in much of the commercial trucking industry. The professionals in this field know that federal law limits how long they can drive. They know they cannot report driving past a certain number of hours in a log book without risking fines or disciplinary action by employers. In order to avoid consequences, they lie, change the times in the book or otherwise fail to keep accurate records of when they drive and when they rest.
The issue is so widespread that the government decided to change the books to digital ones that can't be easily adjusted by drivers. These electronic logs can tell when a vehicle is moving and when it is off. They even have integrated GPS, which can help in the event of an emergency or mechanical issues with a truck. Electronic logging is now the standard, as of April 1, 2018. Commercial drivers and their employers must comply or risk substantial consequences, including fines.