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Proposed easing of law increases fears of future truck accidents

Trucking industry advocates support the efforts to ease restrictions that limit the numbers of hours that truckers are permitted to drive. Current laws dictate the number of consecutive hours that a truck driver can drive. Though truckers may benefit economically, travelers in Tennessee and elsewhere may be more at risk from truck accidents caused by fatigued drivers.

Truck drivers state they are unable to maximize their drive times. The regulation requires truckers to immediately stop once they reach the 11-hour maximum drive time. Truckers are permitted to work a 14-hour day, but three of those hours most be non-driving related. In addition, if truckers are planning an 8-hour run, they are mandated to take a 30-minute break before they reach that mark. Truckers have complained about the logistical nightmare these requirements impose if they reach these deadlines in the midst of traffic slowdowns or while traveling through an area that makes it difficult to park a large rig.

Trucking advocates are calling for reforms that would permit truckers to stop the drive-time clock for up to three hours to help eliminate wasting drive time during traffic tie-ups or other obstructions. In addition, the industry supports eliminating the break requirement so that drivers could choose when they needed to rest. However, public safety advocates stress the fact that fatigued or otherwise distracted truckers pose a significant threat to the safety of fellow travelers.

There were more than 4,650 fatal truck accidents in 2017, which is a significant increase over the previous years. An estimated 13% of these crashes were purportedly caused by tired truckers -- though many believe that estimate reflects a problem with under reporting fatigue-related accidents. These types of crashes often result in devastating consequences for victims and their families. In the even that a Tennessee crash was caused by the negligence of another party, victims -- or their surviving family -- may have legal grounds for pursing compensation for the damages they have sustained.

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