This blog has previously talked how many truckers and other commercial drivers in Virginia must follow federal hours of service regulations.
These so-called rest rules limit how long these drivers can stay on the road, or on duty, before stopping for several hours. The goal of these rules is to make sure truckers get enough sleep, which in turn prevents truck accidents due to fatigued driving.
The Department of Transportation is now moving to relax some of these regulations, although the details of these relaxations have not been released.
Some may see this policy change as coming at an odd time, as the number of accidents involving large trucks is on the climb. For example, in 2017, there were over 4,200 fatal accidents and almost 345,000 injury accidents involving large trucks. These numbers represented a 10% increase over the same numbers from 2016.
It is also significant that the vast majority, over 80%, of fatal accidents happened in the evening and overnight hours, between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. While authorities identified only 60 of those truckers involved in fatal accidents as asleep at the wheel or as too tired to drive safely, one governmental organization described this result is somewhat misleading. Fatigued driving tends to be underreported, as other issues, like inattentiveness or daydreaming, can actually be related to fatigued driving.
No matter what the final rules say, truckers on Virginia's roads still have an obligation to make sure they are in the right physical condition to operate their large vehicles. Doing so includes getting adequate rest.
If truckers fail to meet this obligation and cause an accident as a result, victims may be able to pursue compensation.