Steer Clear: Risk of Crash Triples in Trucker's Final Hour

The sort of thing that can happen. (Image credit: Jeff Williams via the Morguefile)

Long-haul truckers used to be limited by federal law to 10 hours of consecutive driving. Last year, the limit was extended to 11 hours.

A new study suggests that might not have been such a good idea.

A trucker is three times as likely to crash in the 11th hour compared to the first hour, based on data from three national trucking companies.

"The crash risk is statistically similar for the first six hours of driving and then increases in significant steps thereafter," said study leader Paul Jovanis, a professor of civil engineering at Penn State.

The results, announced today, were presented at the 2005 International Truck & Bus Safety Security Symposium.

In a separate Penn State study done last year, data from roughly 16 million long-haul trucking miles showed that the crash risk doubled in the 10th hour compared to the first.

"Our findings, using data from 2004 and from the 1980s, establish a consistent pattern of increased crash risk with hours driving, particularly in the 9th, 10th and 11th hours," Jovanis said today.

The federal limit of 10 hours, which had been in effect for 60 years, was raised in January 2004 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which reaffirmed the change last month.

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