Fatigue and truck drivers: a deadly combination - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Fatigue and truck drivers: a deadly combination

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May 12, 2006

Albany--A study shows that trucker fatigue is a leading cause of many highway accidents. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Admininistration, in 2004, 248 people died in accidents involving large trucks in Georgia.

Truckers often work long hours and travel long distances. This can make for a deadly combination. And as more semis travel the roads,  more crashes involving them are likely to happen.

For more than forty years, Otis Beasley has worked in the trucking industry. He knows fatigue isn't anything to play around with.

"You can't drive a tractor trailor if you're tired," he says.  And when Beasley gets tired, he knows exactly what to do.

"When I start feeling tired, I find the safest area I can find to pull into,"  he says. Truckers must follow strict federal guidelines while on the road.

"We're allowed to drive eleven hours and rest ten hours.Otherwise, we have to deal with the D.O.T," he says.

But is driving eleven hours straight still too much for most truckers?  Sgt. Jamie Sullivan, with the Georgia State Patrol, says 'yes.'

"Is it safe for them to drive all night eleven hours straight? No, I don't think so," says Sullivan.

The Georgia D.O.T. allows truckers to park in rest areas and off ramps to catch up on much needed rest, however, truckers say that's not always a possiblitity.

"The rest areas just don't have enough room for the drivers to get in. There's more trucks out there than there are rest areas," says Beasley.

However, Sullivan says truckers should try to plan their trips in advance.  "Maybe have an arrangement made with the truck stop facility so they have a parking space available when they get there at a certain time," says Sullivan.

Beasley says he practices road safety daily, and he says he's not the only trucker to do just that...

"We have to watch out for you all because we're the biggest," says Beasley.

Most truckers attend trucking school for about six months before they are allowed on the road alone.

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