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How common, and dangerous, is fatigued truck driving?

A previous post on this blog touched on the federal regulations that require many truck drivers on the roads in and around New Orleans, Louisiana, to take periodic breaks and longer rests in order to prevent a truck accident due to a fatigued truck driver. The question might arise, and in fact has arisen among some politicians, as to whether fatigued driving really is such a huge problem among truckers that these rest rules, and particularly certain new modifications to them, are really necessary.

Even the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which promulgates the rest rules, acknowledges that most truck drivers and trucking companies do not push the envelope when it comes to fatigued driving and stay well within the Administration's rest rules. The Administration's own research suggested fatigue remained a common problem in the trucking industry. Unfortunately, there are several "bad apple" trucking companies out there where safety takes a back seat to getting goods delivered on time.

The symptoms of driver fatigue are serious. As is the case with a drunk driver, someone who has simply been on the road too long can start showing slowed reaction times and inability to make quick judgments. Especially since trucks are harder to maneuver quickly because of their size, a driver who is slow to think and act can be deadly.

Moreover, like any other driver, truckers often have a hard time recognizes their own level of fatigue. They may personally think their driving is fine, but they are in fact weaving and otherwise driving in a way that can easily cause an accident.

Fatigued truck driving is too common, and it is at the same too dangerous to be tolerated on Louisiana's roads. Those in the New Orleans area who have been injured by a fatigued truck driver may be entitled to compensation.

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