Officers on the Lookout for Tired Truckers | VideoMichelle San Miguel | 11/14/2012
The roads in oil country are filled with impatient and tired drivers.
"A lot of the accidents I`ve seen out on the highways: people falling asleep, people passing where they shouldn`t be trying to pass, just aggressive driving," said drilling consultant Bill Kinden.
Truck drivers aren`t allowed to drive after working more than 14 hours. But some who work in the oil industry say that rule isn`t always followed.
"I do know a lot of companies up here that you either drive. We don`t care you`re out of hours. You either go or you`re fired," said Ross Diesel owner John Ross.
Truck drivers are required to carry a log book, which lists when they started their shift and how much driving they`ve done. If they`ve surpassed the 14 hour limit, an officer can put them out of service, which means they have to wait 10 hours before getting back behind the wheel.
"A fatigued driver is likely to make mistakes at intersections, to fail to maintain their lanes, to maybe drive faster in conditions to try to get to their destinations," said Lt. Jody Skogen with the North Dakota Highway Patrol.
Between October 2011 to September 2012, officers put 575 drivers out of service. Most of the time it was because they had driven more than the allotted time.
"I know how hard it is to sit there and try to make ends meet driving only 14 hours a day, but your body can only take so much," Ross said.
Skogen says it`s hard to prove whether some trucking companies are encouraging drivers to break the 14 hour rule or whether drivers are motivated to work more to earn more.
If a company does have drivers surpass the 14 hour rule, it risks being fined and can even lose authorization to operate in North Dakota.