New U.S. rest stop rules blamed for crash jump

Opponents say truck drivers racing the clock to meet new rules

In the U.S. new hours of service rules were put into place last year that require trucks drivers to work a maximum of 11 hours in a 14-hour period with a 30-minute break at eight hours.

And despite being introduced with a view to improving safety for truck drivers and other road users, some say the new rules are actually doing the opposite.

A report from the Trucks.com publication says truck drivers are racing to beat the clock and this is leading to increased crash rates.

Truck driver fatalities increased last year in the U.S. with road deaths involving trucks hitting their highest level in 29 years.

“Drivers feel like they literally have a gun to their head,” Todd Spencer, president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, told the publication.

“The typical response was to turn up the maximum permissible speeds on the trucks to allow drivers to make up some time.”

But not everyone is convinced that the new hours of service rules are fully to blame.

American Trucking Associations (ATA) chief executive, Chris Spear, saying distracted car drivers could also be at least partially responsible for the increased crash rate.

“Nearly two-thirds of car-truck collisions are caused by the drivers of passenger cars and distracted driving is the major reason.”

He wants to see more trucks fitted with safety systems such as Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and Lane Keep Assist.

But Jim Mullen from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Authority (FMCSA) says truck drivers might also be more distracted themselves.

And possible increasingly blasé about safety due to the fitment of the driver assist systems.

“Distracted driving absolutely is rising, and it’s problematic,”

“We’re trying to juggle having sufficient technology to assist the driver but not overwhelm him or her or create complacency.”

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