The National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) recently unveiled its 2016 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements. This list, which details the most important safety issues to be addressed in 2016, focuses on 10 broad safety improvements that the NTSB has previously recommended, but which have not yet been implemented. One of the top items on the list is the fight to prevent fatigue-related truck accidents.
According to the NTSB, in a recent survey performed by AAA of highway vehicles, over 43% of participants reported falling asleep at the wheel or nodding off while driving at least once in their lifetime; and a 2010 AAA study estimated that one out of every six (16.5%) deadly traffic accidents is the result of drowsy driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (“NHTSA”) Administrator recently announced at the “Asleep at the Wheel” program in November that between 5,000 and 7,000 fatalities occur annually in the United States.
Among the recommendations issued by the NTSB to combat this problem, is equipping all interstate commercial vehicle carriers with electronic logging devices that collect data on driver hours of service in a valid, accurate, and secure manner to enable the carriers and their regulators to monitor and assess hours-of-service compliance. The NTSB also recommends that companies establish fatigue risk management programs which includes policies or practices to address scheduling, attendance, education, medical screening and treatment, personal responsibility during non-work periods, task/workload issues, rest environments, and commuting and/or napping. According to the NTSB’s press release on the topic, “[u]ltimately, fatigue-related accidents can be avoided with a combination of science-based regulations, comprehensive fatigue risk management programs, and individual responsibility.”