People of Northwest Public Radio
Tired Truck Drivers
Wed July 18, 2012
Oregon, Wash. Truck Inspections Turn Up Weary Drivers
A joint effort in Oregon and Washington to make sure truckers are following safety rules turned up a higher than expected number of weary drivers. More than a quarter of drivers inspected in Oregon were found to be on the road when they shouldn't have been.
Truckers are required to take rest breaks every so often in order to ensure they're alert when they're behind the wheel. They have to keep track of those breaks in their logbook.
Oregon and Washington inspectors recently teamed up for a week-long effort to check truckers along I-5 to see whether they were taking enough breaks. In Washington, about 13 percent of drivers failed the inspection. In Oregon, it was 26 percent.
But Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman David House says that figure isn't as scary as it sounds. For one thing, the inspections aren't random.
"We scrutinize both the vehicle and the driver as they pass through a weigh station," House explains.
Inspectors then choose to examine the logbooks of drivers who look inattentive or fatigued. Drivers who need to take a break do so right at the weigh station, pulling over into the trucker's equivalent of a penalty box.
Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network
On the Web:
Federal hours of service regulations: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/administration/fmcsr/FmcsrGuideDetails.aspx?menukey=395