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NTSB urges stronger enforcement of truck driver rest period rules

As a lawyer handling catastrophic trucking accidents, I have repeatedly seen the deadly effects of driver fatigue as truckers are pushed beyond their physical limits by trucking companies and shippers.

Now the National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday recommended that trucking companies and the government place increased emphasis on making sure truck drivers follow regulations governing proper rest. Additionally, officials at the NTSB recommended that the government should investigate the use of alarms and other devices to monitor drivers’ alertness. Experts estimate that fatigue is responsible for one in eight large-truck crashes.

The NTSB also called upon the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to step up enforcement of trucking companies, making sure their record-keeping is up to date and drivers are being given adequate time to rest.

Investigators also debated the use of technology designed to warn of impending collisions and automatically engage the brakes. They discussed concerns that automatic braking could interfere with the stability of large rigs, so the board recommended that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study the technology and mandate its use if it proves effective.

Ken Shigley has served as chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Litigation Institute, co-sponsored by the Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina Trial Lawyers Associations. He is on the National Advisory Board for the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America, and is actively involved in the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice. A member of the Million Dollar Advocates, he has successfully tried trucking accident cases to multimillion dollar verdict. He has lectured on trucking litigation topics at continuing legal education programs both at home in Georgia and in Nashville, New Orleans and St. Louis, and is scheduled to do so in Chicago this fall. A Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, he is also a Master of the Lamar Inn of Court at Emory Law School, a faculty member for ten years at the Emory University Law School Trial Techniques Program, and was recently elected Secretary of the 39,000 member State Bar of Georgia.