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Plowing For Too Many Hours Without Sleep? Lookout in NJ!

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by Chuck Smith, Aug 6, 2003.

  1. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,317

    Punishments increase for sleepy drivers

    Wednesday, August 06, 2003

    By Regina Schaffer
    rschaffer@sjnewsco.com

    WEST DEPTFORD TWP. -- Gripping the hand of Gov. James E. McGreevey, Carole McDonnell pressed her way through a crowd of cameras and entered a small tent, where the pouring rain nearly drowned out her voice.

    It took her six years to get there.


    "This is Maggie," McDonnell said to the gathered crowd as she held a photo of her smiling daughter. "I am her voice."

    Maggie McDonnell, 20, of Washington Township, was struck and killed by a fatigued driver on July 2, 1997. She was on her way to work on the White Horse Pike in Clementon when the other driver -- who admitted to being awake for 30 consecutive hours -- crossed the dividing line and struck her car head-on.

    The man was ultimately cited for reckless driving and fined $200.

    On Tuesday, McGreevey signed "Maggie's Law," which will increase penalties for fatigued drivers who go more than 24 hours without sleep and cause a fatal accident. Under the new legislation, such drivers can now be charged with vehicular homicide, a second-degree offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

    The new legislation, sponsored by state Senators George Geist and Stephen Sweeney, makes New Jersey the first state in the nation to target drowsy drivers. Current laws on fatigued drivers pertain only to truckers, not automobile drivers.

    "Driving a car sleeping is like piloting a two-ton missile," McDonnell said. "This is a wake up call for New Jersey."

    According to statistics released by AAA Mid-Atlantic, 24 hours without sleep has the same effect on driving performance as having a .10 blood alcohol level.

    McGreevey cited a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study that claims at least 100,000 crashes, 71,000 injuries and 1,500 deaths each year are the result of drivers falling asleep.

    "That injustice should not be subject to a simple $200 monetary fine," McGreevey said. "Carole (McDonnell) understood that in her gut, in her mind. It was just wrong."

    Critics have questioned the enforceability of a law which attempts to gauge sleep, but McGreevey and Maggie's Law advocates contend that retracing a driver's steps can determine how long someone has gone without sleep.

    "A driver who is asleep at the wheel is actually more dangerous than an intoxicated driver," said state Attorney General Peter Harvey, who said the legislation is a presumption in favor of recklessness, but in some cases, vehicular homicide.

    "It is the role of the prosecutor to determine the fact pattern," McGreevey said, adding that a "demonstrated path of conduct" can determine how long a person has gone without sleep.

    State police have long considered drowsy drivers a safety threat, said Lt. Al Della Fave, a state police spokesperson.

    "Drowsy driving is no different than DWI," Della Fave said. "You look for the same stuff, driving over the line, weaving, not staying in the lane."

    As McGreevey signed the bill Tuesday, McDonnell stood with three other mothers who clutched photos of their children who were also killed in drowsy driving accidents.

    -- The Associated Press contributed to this report.
     
  2. Roger Dodger

    Roger Dodger Senior Member
    from nw Pa.
    Messages: 240

    Drowsy Driving? OK. But, what about Lousy Driving? Plenty of that about regardless of weather conditions and the length of rest/sleep!! Wouldn't you agree?:rolleyes:
     
  3. BRL

    BRL PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 1,277

    What that article & many others about this case failed to mention was that the driver in that case was in a crack house using crack for those 30 hours, then drove. That should have been considered homicide IMO. I consider that a little different than us who are plowing for long shifts, sober (except Casey :rolleyes: ) and concentrating diligently on our driving. I'm not saying we shouldn't be held accountable for pushing beyond our physical limits, once we get to the point of drowsiness or dangerous we should stop & get rest. I guess this was a nice gesture to the grieving parents in light of the fact that the drug use wasn't enough for the prosecutors to get a harsher sentence, but I can't really see this law coming into play all that often.
     
  4. Pelican

    Pelican 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,075

    I heard on the radio today that the AAA is rescinding their data on cell phones as being the #1 cause of distracted accidents. This was my take when NY was proposing their ban on cell phone use in the car. Now they admit that many other distractions cause more accidents than the phones, you think the law will be rescinded?
     
  5. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,317

    I found the law about lack of sleep interesting, because I had an employer once, who told me I had to keep working after I complained I was up for 30 hours, and plowing for over 24 hours, without any naps. I told them I had to sleep because I was afraid I would rack up the truck.

    The response I got was "We're all tired" and that the accounts "have to get done, and no one else can do them".

    If one of your drivers called in and told you that they had to get some sleep, after 24+ hours in the truck with no breaks, what would you tell them to do?

    I am sure I am not the only one, and that too many employers push drivers too far. I suggested that we needed a relief crew, and was told that would not happen.

    Funny, I had 3 different shovel crews with me in that 24 hours.... As they got wet and tired, I dropped them off and picked up fresh ones. Oh, and this was a Christmas day storm......... HUMBUG!

    ~Chuck
     
  6. Mike Nelson

    Mike Nelson Senior Member
    Messages: 637

    Chuck,

    You know this law doesn't apply to plowdrivers. Snow doesn't sleep WORK WORK WORK :eek: LOL

    I know as an employer, we all have probably pushed ourselves and our employees to the limit and beyond at one point or another.

    What we do now, if it is going to be a long drawn out storm is put them up in hotels in the areas they are working.

    This works out much better than sending them home, cause sometimes they don't return. LOL
     
  7. BRL

    BRL PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 1,277

    "If one of your drivers called in and told you that they had to get some sleep, after 24+ hours in the truck with no breaks, what would you tell them to do?"

    Shut the truck down, even if it was only after 6 hours. All plow drivers in this area have another job that may have taken a lot of hours of their day. So even a short plow shift can be fatiguing. My guys know to call it quits when they're tired and don't hesitate to bail out of a shift. They know I have other guys waiting to fill in, so they don't have to feel guilty of leaving me in a jam and this works well. If I was in the situation you mentioned Chuck, I would have parked the truck & gone to get sleep, I'm not putting my life in danger for my boss's bad planning.
     
  8. Garagekeeper

    Garagekeeper Senior Member
    Messages: 459

    Take a Nap!

    Absolutely! Stop and rest!
    Bring others to get the priority jobs opened up and cleared,
    You have to consider the wellbeing of your driver; the equipment; the property your plowing and the safety of others out in the storm.
    A rested driver is more productive and efficient.
    :rolleyes: John.............
     
  9. wyldman

    wyldman Member
    Messages: 3,265

    Sometimes I have to tell the guys to take a break,or send them home.You can usually tell when they are overtired,as they start getting stupid.Not worth the risk to themselves,and others.
     
  10. szorno

    szorno Senior Member
    Messages: 308

    Garagekeeper and Wyldman have it right. It is not worth the risk. If you have to schedule to work a driver more than 8 or 9 hours YOU are doing something wrong. I know dumps come. I know probably better than anyone after 65 inches in 3 days. But... you have to protect the driver, the public and the rig. This NJ law should not be necessary. And the prosecutor wussed out if crack was anywhere near involved. In Colo that would be murder2 at least.:angry: