Truck drivers who spend more than 150 minutes driving to a job site may be labeled as “excessive commuters” by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The agency is currently seeking comment about a survey to find out how many drivers are excessive commuters. It also wants to find out how excessive commuting may have an impact on drivers in West Virginia and elsewhere in the country.
The administration will ultimately determine if employers have policies related to excessive commuting among its drivers. The survey is part of the FMCSA’s obligation to comply with the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. Once the survey is complete, it would then be tasked with reporting the results to Congress. The FMCSA believes that long commutes could have multiple negative effects, such as reducing the amount of time spent sleeping or engaging in leisure activities.
Excessive commutes may also have an adverse impact on a driver’s health, including higher blood pressure. The survey is believed to be in response to a 2014 crash involving a Walmart truck driver who was fatigued when the collision happened. One of the victims of the crash was comedian Tracy Morgan. Comments are being accepted until Jan. 26.
If truck driver fatigue is believed to be the primary cause of an accident, it may be possible for an injured victim to obtain compensation. Victims could be compensated for their medical bills or lost wages. Punitive damages may also be available in some cases. If a truck was driven for work purposes, the driver’s employer might also be held liable for damages. Legal counsel could use physical evidence, driver statements and witness statements to establish that driver fatigue played a role in causing an accident to occur.