The federal government has closed a loophole that was the cause of untold numbers of trucking accidents. Truck drivers who hauled material to and from oil drilling sites were limited to spending 14 hours of work before resting–the problem is that the former rule did not include time at the drilling site. So, truck drivers could spend 14 full hours on the road, and any amount of time on duty loading, unloading or performing truck maintenance at the site. Other duties could easily increase the time between significant rest periods to 15, 16 or 17 hours.
The New York Times wrote about the problem a few weeks ago, and included heartbreaking stories of preventable deaths. In one, the driver had been working for almost 21 hours straight. The data is striking: one-third of all oil worker deaths are caused by highway crashes, compared to one-fifth in all industries combined. That article may have motivated the Department of Transportation to change the rules, and hopefully save some lives.
Perhaps most disheartening is that the employers sometimes allow or encourage fatigue-related truck accidents: