Thursday, March 10, 2005

Wal-Mart Threatens Your Safety, Even if You Don't Work There

Drowsy driving is a big risk factor for collisions. Research shows that the interval from waking up is the biggest predictor of sleepiness [not a surprise, but better to have data] than how long someone has been driving. Since regulation of when someone debunks [that is, gets out of bed, a surrogate for waking up] is tough, a reasonable surrogate is time on the clock.

Nearly 5,000 people were killed in large truck crashes in 2003, and those vehicles were three times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes than passenger cars, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

The new motor carrier regulation required drivers to stop after 14 hours on the clock, and, more important, 60 hours in the week. That rule had been struck down in federal court because it didn't take into account truck drivers' health. In October, Congress reinstated the rule for one year. It a breath taking display of corporate arrogance, an Arkansas congressman proposes to make bad even worse.

Retailers want 16-hour trucker workday
Critics: 'Sweatshop-on-wheels amendment'

Tuesday, March 8, 2005 Posted: 7:35 PM EST (0035 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Wal-Mart and other retailers are lobbying Congress to extend the workday for truckers to 16 hours, something labor unions and safety advocates say would make roadways more dangerous for all drivers.
Rep. John Boozman, an Arkansas Republican whose district includes Wal-Mart's headquarters in Bentonville, is sponsoring a bill that would allow a 16-hour workday as long as the trucker took an unpaid two-hour break.

Data on how bad the situation is are provided by a paper in a leading peer reviewed journal:

Data on the prevalence and hypothesized predictors of falling asleep while driving were gathered through face-to-face interviews with 593 long-distance truck drivers....... 47.1% of the survey respondents had ever fallen asleep at the wheel of a truck, and 25.4% had fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year. ...Six underlying, independent factors predicted falling asleep: greater daytime sleepiness; more arduous schedules, with more hours of work and fewer hours off-duty; older, more experienced drivers; shorter, poorer sleep on road; symptoms of sleep disorder; and greater tendency to night-time drowsy driving. ...Drivers who had fallen asleep at the wheel had higher scores on the arduous work schedule factor; these were drivers who typically drove longer than the 10 consecutive h allowedby regulation, took fewer than the 8 h off-duty required by regulation, falsified their log books, drove more hours in a typical 7-day week, and more frequently had schedules that precluded making on-time delivery without speeding or violating the hours-of-service regulations.

Accid Anal Prev. 2000 Jul;32(4):493-504.

Factors associated with falling asleep at the wheel among long-distance truck drivers.

McCartt AT, Rohrbaugh JW, Hammer MC, Fuller SZ.Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research, University at Albany, State University of New York, 12205-2604, USA.

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