Federal truck rest rule may contribute to rise in truck crashes

Many big rigs drive throughout the state of Tennessee transporting goods. The number of truck crashes has increased in recent years despite the federal government requiring rest breaks after eight hours of driving. The rule aims to create a safer driving environment, but it may lead to speeding to make up lost time. 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration separates trucks based on whether they carry property or passengers. The rules for rest and hours of service vary slightly between these two groups. The majority of large trucks carry property within a state or interstate. 

Property-carrying truckers must take a rest break lasting 30 minutes after 8 hours of driving. That first section of driving must not occur unless the driver has not driven for 10 consecutive hours prior to driving. Then they can drive the rig for 11 hours but not exceed 14 hours total including rests and meal breaks. In a 7/8 day period, truckers can only drive 60/70 hours before going off duty for 34 consecutive hours. 

Trucks.com stated that 2017 saw the highest level of large truck crash-related deaths. Truckers in the article stated they speed in order to stay within the federal rule for hours of service. Some accidents are simply due to bad driving habits brought in by newer truckers. 

Many truckers feel the forced half-hour rest break actually increases their fatigue rather than decreasing it. Fatigue affects driving behaviors decreasing trucker safety and increasing the use of speed and hard braking. Truckers have also issued concerns regarding safe rest stops to meet the half-hour rest break.