Companies risk lives by putting sleep-deprived port truckers on the road

We see fatigued drivers in far too many 18-wheeler wrecks in West Texas. This article does a good job laying out the problem.

Every day, port trucking companies around Los Angeles put hundreds of impaired drivers on the road, pushing them to work with little or no sleep in violation of federal safety regulations, a USA TODAY Network investigation found.

They dispatch truckers for shifts that last up to 20 hours a day, six days a week, sometimes with tragic results.

In August 2013, a Container Intermodal Transport trucker, who said in depositions that he often broke fatigue laws, barreled into stopped traffic at 55 mph, killing a teenager and injuring seven others.

Seven months later, a Pacific 9 Transportation driver had just finished his 45th hour on the clock in three days when he ran over and killed a woman crossing the street.

A Gold Point Transportation truck was moving containers for 15 hours one day in May 2013 when it crashed in Long Beach, injuring four people.

The trucking industry has always had drivers who work reckless amounts of overtime.

But the USA TODAY Network investigation shows for the first time that fatigued truckers are a near-constant threat on the roads around America’s busiest ports.

To identify port trucking companies that put their drivers and the public at risk, reporters retraced the movement of thousands of Los Angeles-area trucks over four years using time stamps generated each time a driver passes through a port gate.

Reporters then calculated how long each truck had operated and compared the results to federal crash data from 2013 to 2016.

The analysis found that, on average, trucks serving the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach operated without the required break 470 times a day.

Those trucks were involved in at least 189 crashes within a day of an extended period on the clock. Federal records do not indicate who was at fault.

With some exceptions, federal rules say commercial truckers must take a 10-hour break every 14 hours.

The data alone don’t prove that a trucker was driving impaired. But regulators and experts said the analysis provides strong evidence of a problem they know to be pervasive but difficult to quantify.

“There’s enough there to warrant further investigation,” said Collin Mooney, executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, an association of industry regulators dedicated to improving safety….