Truck Drivers and Airline Pilots: Why the Disparity?

truck driver talking into truck radio

Accidents involving large trucks claimed 3,757 lives on American roads and highways in 2011. No deaths were reported in America due to a commercial airliner crash in 2011. None were reported in 2010, either.

Flying is safer than ever—thanks, in part, to rigid requirements for airline pilots to ensure they are alert, trained and qualified. If the government treated truck drivers like it treats airline pilots, trucking might be a similar story.

Two Different Sets of Rules

The law limits truckers to 70 hours of driving per week—recently decreased from 77. Airline pilots, meanwhile, can fly no more than 30 hours each week. Truck drivers are subjected to a physical exam every two years; pilots, every six months. The federal budget for airline regulatory expenses is nearly 30 times more than what is allotted for trucking regulation enforcement, even though there are nearly 20 times as many truckers as pilots, according to Road Safe America, a group that advocates for safer highways.

The group posted a chart of the disparities here.

Limiting the amount of operational hours per day, week and month is intended to prevent fatigue and keep pilots and drivers alike alert. So why are the limits so different?

As RSA President Steve Owings said last year, “fatigue is fatigue.” He also noted that, unlike airline pilots, truck drivers do not have co-pilots, have no autopilot to take the wheel for them and are in close proximity to other occupied vehicles.

Consequences Can Be Fatal

Owings and his wife Susan know the harm an inattentive truck driver can cause on the road. The Owings started RSA after their son was killed in 2003 when a speeding tractor-trailer rammed his car from behind.

The Truck Accident Attorneys have made their careers out of representing people harmed by dangerous semi trucks, and we’ll keep doing it until it’s no longer necessary.

Contact us if you or a loved one was hurt due to a truck driver or trucking company’s negligence.

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