Fatigued driver solutions still elusive

Oversight of trucking safety on the roads in Louisiana and throughout the nation has become a major concern as serious accidents draw attention to the dangers of driving these large vehicles while experiencing significant levels of fatigue. Mandated out-of-service periods have been implemented to provide truck drivers with adequate time for rest, but the quality of rest obtained during such periods can be difficult to monitor or regulate. A federal regulation requires that drivers not operate commercial vehicles while impaired by causes such as fatigue or illness. However, enforcement can be subjective.

In one case, Minnesota officials developed a checklist that was aimed at providing a means of identifying trucker fatigue. However, there have been serious challenges to this list because of the infringement on the Fourth Amendment rights of trucking professionals. There have been challenges to this checklist in federal courts, and the number of citations for violations of the regulation has declined significantly because of the difficulty in objectively evaluating fatigue. Technologies for tracking driver behavior that could signal fatigue have begun to emerge, but there is not conclusive information available about the effectiveness of these technologies.

An accident involving a semi truck can be severe because of the size of such a vehicle in comparison to most passenger vehicles. Whether a truck accident occurs because of negligent driver behavior or because of a mechanical error, there is great potential for such an event to cause serious injuries or death. When such an accident occurs, an investigation typically follows to identify the contributing factors.

If an individual is injured in a trucking accident, insurance covering the truck and the trucking company could provide for medical needs, property damages and other financial issues arising out of the incident. Additionally, there could be grounds for personal injury action, especially if there is evidence of the incident being caused by the negligence of the trucking company or the driver.

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