SEATTLE — A new federal law aimed at getting tired truckers off the road goes into effect in July. The law limits the number of hours that truckers can be out on the highway during the week, lowering their total driving time from 82 hours to 70.
Washington State Troopers believe a tired trucker recently caused an early morning crash near Mount Vernon that shut down Interstate 5 for five hours.
Sgt. Kirk Rudeen said sleepy haulers are a major concern on the state’s highways, calling tired truckers as dangerous as drunk drivers.
“When we’re out there doing our enforcement, a tired driver’s going to look almost exactly like a drunk driver — you’re going to see the weaving, the drifting,” Rudeen said.
Troopers are also looking for truckers who may be texting or talking on their phone. Distracted driving may have contributed to two other recent tractor trailer crashes that wreaked havoc on I-5.
“You’re talking about something that’s anywhere from 80,000 to 100,000 pounds — when that gets into an accident, it’s not like an accident with a car — that’s a major collision,” Rudeen said.
The group, “Parents Against Tired Truckers,” helped push legislation last year that requires many truckers to use electronic daily logs so they can’t falsify when they take required breaks out on the road.
But one trucker, George Woolsey, said those logs aren’t required for in-state drivers, who are often the ones pushing the limits.
“There are a lot of drivers out there being paid by the mile and they want to get as much done as they can and they’re going to cheat,” he said.