With the support of truckers nationwide, the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) is proposing legislation that would pull back on federal Hours of Service regulations.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) established Hours of Service regulations for truck drivers in the 1930s, as a way to curb the risks associated with fatigued driving. Under the regulations, commercial property-carrying vehicle drivers are limited to on-duty time limits — following mandatory 10-hour off-duty periods, truckers are limited to 11 total hours of allotted driving time, which must fall within a maximum 14-hour work shift. Driving time is recorded by the trucks’ internal electronic logging devices (the “black box”), and any violation could incur significant penalties.
The regulation changes are expected to pass, as the Trump Administration and members of Congress have been supportive of transportation deregulation in the past. Truck drivers who support the legislation feel the current regulations are not in tune with the realities of being a trucker, and require drivers to park in unsafe or inconvenient areas to take a break, even if they are not tired. On the other side of the argument, those who do not support deregulation continue to emphasize the risks.
Reduced regulations would allow truckers to complete longer trips and drive without rest for several hours at a time. This could mean more fatigued drivers on the road, and as a result, more accidents — truck drivers who fall asleep behind the wheel or make mistakes because they are tired present significant danger to other drivers. According to an Associated Press report on the Transportation Department’s attempts to relax regulations, driver fatigue was a factor in at least 60 of the 4,657 truck accidents that happened in 2017, a figure that could be inaccurate as “the National Transportation Safety Board has said this type of driver impairment is likely underreported on police crash forms.”
Truck accidents often result in the severe injury of other drivers. Victims of truck accidents incur costly medical bills, lost wages, and other significant damages. To discuss a truck accident that affected you or a member of your family, contact B&D Law Group, APLC today.
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