Cameras guard drivers from exhausted truckers

GRANDVIEW, Wash. -- If you ever get nervous driving past a semi-truck, a high-tech web of gadgets could keep you safe.

You think your job is stressful? Try hauling a tractor-trailer across the state on little sleep.

"I want to protect my life just as much as anyone else, so I'm going to make sure to take care of priority number one," says truck driver Chris Foster.

Truckers like Foster are allowed on Washington roads for no more than 11 hours in a single day. At that point, a trucker needs to rest.
But facing tight deadlines and the threat of losing money, Foster knows how truckers can feel tempted to push past that limit, endangering themselves and everyone else on the road.

Eleven hours on the road, every single day for two weeks at a time. For most people, that would be a frustrating road trip, but for truckers like Foster, it's a normal day at the office. It's one of the reasons why so many truckers are constantly tired.

You take tired truckers out of the equation and Charles Davis is out of the job. Davis uses a high-tech web of gadgets to watch how long those truckers are rolling ahead. It starts with several unassuming cameras along highways across the state. Any time a truck passes, a picture is taken, and sent to Davis. From there, he compares the license plate number to see if that truck has been logged anywhere else in the last several hours. If they're over the eleven-hours, they'll be stopped at a weigh station.

"They usually say "you caught me"... they don't put up an argument," Davis says.

Since the cameras went in a year ago, the number of violations given to tired truckers has surged 42%, while the number of trucking crashes has fallen 10%. Foster works to make sure he's not part of either statistic.

"You have to plan out your day completely before you start," he says. "Otherwise you could wind up with issues down the road."

Troopers estimate eight percent of all tickets given to truckers are now for being on the road too long.

That's up from just one percent last year.