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Truck Drivers Say Regulations Keep Roads Safe, But Also Hinder Quality Of Life

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Many of us pass semi trucks daily on the roadways and a recent, deadly incident is raising questions about regulations.

A truck driver is accused of slamming into a limousine in New Jersey on Saturday, killing one and critically injuring others, including comedian Tracy Morgan.

A criminal complaint alleges the driver of the truck had not slept in more than 24 hours, but federal regulations are extremely strict and don't allow truck drivers to drive more than 11 hours a day. Electronic logs keep track of drivers, monitoring their speed, location and time driving making it difficult for truck drivers to go without mandatory breaks and rest.

Some truck drivers say current federal safeguards are great for their industry, others say it's frustrating and ruining their quality of life.

Sean Hummingbird is a trucker. He's been driving across country for the last 7 years to support his family, but sometimes federal restrictions mean he can't get home to his two children.

"It kind of has it's benefits and kind of not also, because we can be stuck in between towns and don't have a place to park," said Hummingbird.

Within 8 hours, he has to take a 30 minute break. After driving 11 hours in a day, he has to stop and take a 10 hour break before getting back on the road. So, his route today is tough. Driving from Indiana 8 hours to Waterloo.

"I had to call them up and make sure they had a place for me to sleep because I'm going to be out of hours because I can't move that thing until my 10 hour break and after midnight," said Hummingbird.

But drivers agree, regulations keep sleepy truck drivers off the roads.

"It puts pressure on you, but it also keeps you safe," said truck driver for 17 years Christopher Riley. "It keeps the motoring public safe."

Christopher said once you run out of hours, you have to shut your truck down. Sometimes if he's close enough his family can come pick him up so he can spend his break at home.

Aaron Tennant owns a trucking company and said situations like this make it hard for their drivers to have a regular schedule with family.

"We believe that the driver's safer if he can get home, stay in a routine and spend some good quality home time with his family," said Tennant.

But he said they're always keeping a close watch on their drivers to make sure they're safe.

"We have a staff of folks that watch and if trucks go over a certain speed, we contact the drivers," said Tennant. "So we do a lot of coaching and safety."

Tennant said summer is a busy season for the trucking industry, so while you're on the highways for vacation make sure you give semi's space, about 300 to 400 feet if you're following behind them.

American Trucking Association officials said speed, inattentive driving and a number of other factors are a larger contributing factor to problems on the roads.

"There are 3-4 million commercial vehicle drivers driving each every day on the nations highways," said President and CEO of American Trucking Assoc. Bill Graves. "It's essentially how we move the commerce of this country. And for the most part, the safety record is quite good. This is obviously one of those really horrific examples.

The Department of Transportation estimates driver fatigue is a factor in 13% of truck crashes.

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