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Want fewer truck accidents? Improving driver pay might help

One of our posts last week focused on the serious issue of drowsy driving, which is sometimes called fatigued driving. While being overly tired and drowsy behind the wheel can make any driver a danger to himself and others, fatigued driving is especially dangerous – and common – for commercial truck drivers.

Truck accidents typically involve many other vehicles and are often fatal. So why do truck drivers continue to stay behind the wheel long after becoming fatigued? Some believe the answer is money. Most truckers are only compensated for the miles they travel. A federal regulatory agency now wants to find out if better pay could result in fewer truck accidents.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is conducting a study to determine if and how truck driver compensation affects accident rates. The agency hypothesizes that if truck drivers were compensated for the time they spent waiting for cargo to be loaded and unloaded, they would feel less financial pressure to get back on the road without taking time to rest.

The FMCSA’s study will involve online questionnaires sent to carriers selected at random. Meanwhile, the agency is voicing support for a provision in the Obama administration’s pending highway bill. It would ensure that truck drivers are compensated for duty-related waiting time, and that their compensation rate is at least as high as the federal minimum wage.

Because of the trucking industry’s lobbying power, efforts to impose regulations on the industry often get stalled for years or defeated altogether. But this common-sense reform is one that is long overdue. Therefore, we have to hope that the voices of reason will be heard above voices of dissent.

Source: TruckingInfo.com, “FMCSA Will Study Driver Pay Impact on Safety,” Oliver Patton, Aug. 29, 2014

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