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New research may shed light on fatigue and truck accidents

In March 2016, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine revealed new data concerning how truck driver tiredness might be correlated with accident risk. According to the analysts who wrote the report, prior research had been hindered because it is hard to obtain an unbiased, accurate gauge of how much fatigue drivers suffer from. Analysts say that the new assessment's revelations could help enforce existing measures intended to keep tired drivers off the road, and the report comes on the heels of industry outcry for clearer standards on what constitutes fatigued driving.

The report made numerous recommendations concerning how the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration might enforce rules that contribute to safer roadway conditions and operator practices. Some of this advice focused on instituting sounder data gathering and research techniques, such as continued surveys and improved use of electronic health records.

The researchers also believe that the FMCSA should make its data more readily available to scientists and provide more motivation for those who study the fatigue issue. It has been noted that violations of 49 CFR 392.3, which forbids drivers to operate if they are sick or tired, have decreased, but many maintain that prior court challenges to police methodologies and the ambiguity of the laws make the rules harder to enforce. Notably, the report itself indicates that existing limitations on how long drivers can operate may be ineffective.

Current rules place limits on how truckers can operate, but they may not have the intended result, and those who are in truck accidents can suffer catastrophic injuries. An attorney representing an injured victim can review the official accident report and other evidence in order to determine the party or parties who should bear financial responsibility.

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