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Drowsy driving in spotlight after high-profile truck accident

Earlier this month, we wrote about the tragic trucking accident that claimed the life of a veteran comedian and seriously injured actor-comedian Tracy Morgan.

Soon after the accident, it was revealed that the truck driver responsible had not slept in more than 24 hours prior to the crash. Since then, there has been a lot of media coverage on the issue of drowsy driving within the trucking industry.

As it turns out, accidents involving truck drivers who were sleep-deprived are quite common in the United States, and they are often deadly. This remains true despite the fact that there are federal laws in place requiring truck drivers to take breaks and get rest.

A recent article on the issue in the New York Times called drowsy driving “an open secret among truckers.” It said that federal rules were changed last year to reduce the maximum workweek from 82 to 70 hours for truckers, but the trucking industry has been fighting the policy ever since.

Industry officials claim that truckers need flexibility in their work and the stricter rules prohibit this. They also say that driving-fatigue is not as serious of a problem in the industry as some groups have suggested.

But safety advocates say that rules targeting fatigue are more important than ever, especially with added congestion on the nation’s highways. While it isn’t always easy to prove that fatigue caused fatal trucking accidents, they say that it’s obvious that truckers need rest to perform well.

Ultimately, safety advocates say that truck driver fatigue is a major problem that is only now getting the attention it deserves after an accident involving a high-profile celebrity.

“If it weren’t for the fact that an entertainer, Tracy Morgan, was the victim of a crash, this would have gone unnoticed, but it happens day in and day out,” the vice president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety told the Times.

It’s true; trucking accidents are far too common in California and the rest of the United States, and they often involved fatigue or other negligence. In order to hold truck drivers and their employers responsible, tireless efforts from a personal injury firm are usually needed.

Source: The New York Times, "Truckers Resist Rules on Sleep, Despite Risks of Drowsy Driving," Jad Mouawad and Elizabeth A. Harris, June 16, 2014

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