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Lack of trucking regulation a road hazard

Many drivers across Maryland use the highways daily to commute, run errands or visit family members. With so many behind the wheel regularly, the risk of a collision is a reality that many fear. With a shortage of truck drivers across the country, the risk of a serious crash with a semi-truck could be of even greater concern.

As the Huffington Post explains, when the economy slowed in 2009, so did fatal accidents involving large trucks. But as the economic outlook improved, traffic deaths involving commercial trucks worsened, and a driver shortage has some believing that the laws regulating the trucking industry are lacking. Exhaustion behind the wheel is regulated by forcing drivers to limit the number of hours they drive each day, but many fear that undiagnosed sleep apnea in commercial truck drivers puts everyone at risk. A condition that constricts the airways during sleep, sleep apnea can cause extreme fatigue in those who are undiagnosed. Although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recommends that all drivers be screened and treated, if necessary, for sleep apnea before getting behind the wheel, it is not a requirement.

In addition, CBS News reports that the age of commercial truck drivers has been increasing, and about 10 percent of truck drivers are 65 or older. Although commercial pilots must retire at age 65, trucking companies are actively focusing recruiting efforts at those who do not have the financial stability to retire. According to an analysis of crash data, there has been a 19 percent spike in collisions involving truck drivers over the age of 70 since 2013. Some of the drivers are even in their 90s.

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