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Truck industry unhappy about new driver fatigue regulations

Wisconsin's trucking industry is about to experience some changes this month thanks to a set of government regulations being imposed nationwide. The new rules are intended to curb the rate of fatigue-related accidents among truck drivers. Data provided by the Department of Transportation indicates that there are between three and four thousand truck accident deaths every year, and driver fatigue was a contributing factor in 13 percent of them.

The new regulations are fundamentally simple. NPR News reports that drivers who've been on the road for at least eight hours must now take a half-hour break before they are allowed to continue further. In addition, truck drivers will be required to take a 34-hour break once a week, and the maximum permissible driving hours per week have been reduced to 70. Some drivers are protesting the new rules, stating that they will only worsen the pressure they receive from their shipping companies to offload their products on time.

While it's understandable why some drivers and shipping companies are displeased with the new regulations, it's important to remember the inherent dangers this issue involves. Truck accidents are one of the worst forms of motor vehicle accidents. These are not cars or motorcycles; even a relatively minor accident can cause serious injuries. Since driver fatigue is one of the primary causes of semi-truck accidents, these regulations may be a necessary step toward improving safety on the nation's roadways.

Many people who have been involved in a truck accident seek out an experienced accident attorney to investigate their case. Truck accidents have many potential causes apart from driver fatigue: negligent truck maintenance, defective auto parts and other such issues can all contribute to a crash. All shipping companies are required to adhere to strict federal trucking regulations in order to maintain their operating license. If an accident has occurred, an attorney may investigate a shipping company to ensure these regulations were followed and determine the accident's cause.

Source: NPR, "New Rules Put Brakes On Truck Drivers' Schedules", June 30, 2013

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