IOWA- According to the Iowa State Patrol, 20% of fatalities in Iowa involve commercial motor vehicles, like semi trucks.
On any given day, troopers are out watching for symptoms of drowsy or erratic driving.
“As the signs and symptoms of fatigue sets in, your reaction time drops,” explained Trooper Jason Bardsley, Iowa State Patrol. “They’re driving an 80,000 pound missle.”
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration assigns officers and troopers to target commercial drivers and oversized loads.
By law, truck drivers are only allowed to work a fourteen hour day, three of those hours they cannot be driving. The other ten hours is meant for sleep, but sometimes that doesn’t happen.
“We look at the documents provided, including fuel receipts, scale tickets, bills,” said one trooper who had pulled over a Wisconsin truck.
The required logs help troopers tell if the drivers are being truthful about their hours or stretching the truth to get more money.
Trooper Bardsley showed an example of a man who logged his hours incorrectly and had actually been driving on less than four hours of sleep.
“He’s literally three or four states away from where he should be,” said Bardsley. "He may be only getting two or three hours of sleep. It’s very scary and this is what they do and they think “Hey, I do this all the time.””
In 2016, out of 7,242 inspections done by the FMCSA, 1,622 drivers were pulled out of service. Troopers escort the trucks to a rest area or gas station in order for them to rest.
The Department of Public Safety has even added 26 part-time trooper positions to combat the issue.
Iowa is more than double the national rate for fatalities involving commercial vehicles.
"Look at the bigger picture; we’re trying to make drivers and everyone out here using the roadways safe. That’s our end goal is to make the roadways of Iowa safe to travel on."
So far in 2016, Iowa has had 317 deadly crashes. That’s an increase of 59 from 2015 and the second highest since 2012.
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