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The Truth About Reckless Truckers

I know some of you out there might think of truckers in a negative light—hogging the road, driving recklessly, staying up late to meet deadlines... Tragic accidents making the news headlines definitely don't help. This past May, a commercial vehicle driver crossed the center line near Toccoa, Georgia, striking a church bus and injuring more than a dozen people. Earlier this month in Emerson, Georgia, a tractor trailer driver contributed to the death of a mother of two children after failing to set his parking brake. Historically, commercial trucking companies have been scrutinized because of their drivers' extreme working hours—sometimes in up to 82 hours per week. Their brutal schedule meant that truckers were often encouraged to ignore fatigue and drowsiness to meet deadlines, presenting a danger to other motorists. But since 2013, federal guidelines have been in place to curb driver fatigue. These guidelines prohibit truckers from working for more than 70 hours per week. Now, that statement might make it seem like all commercial drivers were racing up and down the interstates from dusk to dawn every day—but that's simply not the case. In fact, these regulations only affected the top 15% of drivers' shifts, meaning most truckers were working schedules that provided adequate rest to begin with. Drivers are also required to take a 30-minute break after being behind the wheel for 8 hours. Again, the myth of the caffeine-addled or drunk trucker swerving in and out of his lane at 4 am is mostly created out of fear. Yes, of course there are some cases when this urban legend comes true—and often with tragic results, such as the incident in Emerson—but truckers and trucking companies are held to very high safety standards to begin with. If you do witness a truck driver behaving aggressively or recklessly, look for the phone number on the back or sides of their vehicle to report them. But with companies and drivers facing stiff fines up to $11,000 for a first offense, you can relax and release the death-grip on your steering wheel every time an eighteen-wheeler passes by.
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