Truck driver fatigue is a serious danger on Montana roads. When over-the-road truckers drive too long without rest, their alertness and reaction times are adversely affected. In a worst-case scenario, a trucker can fall asleep at the wheel. When a large semi truck is involved in a collision with a smaller vehicle, the occupants of the smaller vehicle can be killed or suffer serious injuries.
The trucking industry is important to Montana farmers, ranchers and businesses. But some argue the trucking industry puts profits over safety. In 2012, big trucks were involved in 333,000 crashes, according to data from the National Transportation Safety Board. Those accidents resulted in 3,921 deaths and injured over 104,000 people. Recently truck driver fatigue, one of the most critical safety issues for long-haul truckers, has become a national political issue.
Truckers driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are a deadly menace on Montana roads and throughout the nation. Late in June, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which enforces federal trucking regulations, announced it had taken 287 commercial truck and bus drivers off the road in its annual enforcement sweep, conducted in April and May of this year. Enforcement actions were also brought against 128 of the companies that employed the drivers.