Truck driving is not a nine-to-five job. It entails working into the very late or very early hours of the day on the road away from home. To help protect truckers from being overworked (and to increase the safety of other motorists) the government regulates how frequently truck drivers must stop and rest.
These regulations are called hours of service (HOS) rules. They are implemented to help ensure that truck drivers are alert when they are driving. Recently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the agency that regulates HOS, implemented new HOS rules. The new rules were put into place to alleviate driver fatigue, which leads to a high risk of truck accidents.
Under previous regulations, truck drivers could work up to 82 hours per seven-day week. The new rules reduce the maximum amount to 70 hours per week on average. The new rules also recognize that the body is most in need of sleep during 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. Because of this fact, the new rules dictate that truck drivers must rest during this time at least two nights of the week. The new rules also require truck drivers who have worked eight consecutive hours to take a 30-minute break before returning to work.
The new rules made no change to the current regulations limiting truck drivers’ daily driving limit of 11 hours.
The rules are set to go into effect on July 1. However, several trucking association groups have objected to the rules and filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals to block their implementation. The groups argue that the new rules were implemented in an arbitrary and capricious manner, without evidence to back them up. The court recently heard arguments. A decision is expected soon.
New rules could save lives
Although the new HOS regulations are receiving some pushback from industry advocates, they could help save lives, by ensuring that truck drivers are well rested. Studies by the FMCSA confirm that the longer the driver spends behind the wheel, the higher risk there is of being involved in a truck accident.
Truck accidents are a big problem on the nation’s roadways. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in 2010, over 500,000 trucks and commercial vehicles were involved in accidents. As a result of these accidents, over 100,000 people were seriously injured. In addition, 5,000 people were killed, up from 3,200 from a year earlier.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can investigate the cause of the accident and advise you of your right to compensation for your injuries.