Local News

NTSB Wants Drivers to Get More Rest

Posted August 2, 1999

— Lack of sleep can be deadly on the roads and in the air. TheNational Transportation Safety Boardwants commercial pilots and drivers to get more sleep even if that means changing the rules.

Matthew Batchelor knows what life on the road is like. He has been driving professionally for 38 years. Most of his time is spent on Interstate 95.

The Wilson resident says most commercial drivers do everything possible to drive safely, and most get enough sleep. Federal law guarantees it.

"After you drive for 10 hours, you have to be off-duty for eight hours whether you are at your place of loading and unloading or not. You have to stop and be off for at least eight hours," explained Batchelor.

The NTSB is taking a hard look at whether eight hours of rest is enough for professional drivers. That eight hours includes time to park, eat and a host of other things, not just time for sleep.

Most drivers WRAL talked with say if current rules are enforced, new rules will not be needed.

"Eight hours off should give any man enough rest. A lot of time, you get more time off than that," said one truck driver.

No one knows what will happen in this latest round of talks, but some are concerned that the industry could find itself being over-regulated.

The NTSB cannot pass laws, but it can make recommendations to those who do.

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