FMCSA Issued New Hours-of-Service Requirements

Long haul truckers have new rules to follow, as the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration has changed hours of service requirements. The biggest change will be to reduce the maximum amount of time spent behind the wheel from 82 hours to 70 hours. This is accomplished by amending the 34-hour restart rule to include two periods between 1 am, and 5 am and allowing only one restart per week. Drivers also must take a 30-minute break for every 8 hours of continuous driving. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says the new requirements strike a balance between safety and efficiency, making the roads safer while minimally interfering with business interests.

Critics argue, however, that the new regulations do not go far enough. A major point of contention is the 11-hour daily driving limit. Safety advocates wanted that number lowered to ten hours, pointing to statistics that show the risk of a crash rises after 8 hours of driving, increasing exponentially in the ninth and tenth hours. They contend that if the daily driving limit were reduced, the number of injuries on the roadway could be reduced. This would, in turn, save society money in reducing health care costs and reducing the number of lost wages and time.

Trucking companies and shipping companies, however, are opposed to changing the hours of service. They contend that these changes are driven by labor groups seeking to increase the number of trucking jobs amongst many currently unemployed. The American Trucking Association, for example, says that if productivity were reduced by 5%, this would add 115,000 trucks to the road. This increase in trucks would then lead to a greater exposure to risk for accidents among motorists. By their estimates, this would lead to an additional 52 fatal crashes per year, amongst an additional 900 injury accidents.

This disagreement is nothing new. Since their inception in 1938, hours of service of rules have been hotly debated by organized labor and the trucking industry. The original rules allowed for 12 hours of continuous driving time but were quickly amended the following year to allow for only ten hours. This changed in 2003 to the rules currently in place, allowing for 11 hours of continuous driving. The newest change attempts to give truckers a schedule that aligns more with the natural circadian rhythm. Studies have also shown that sleeping at night is more beneficial than sleeping during the day. This night sleep also makes for healthier truckers. People who have jobs that force them to sleep during the day are at risk for a number of health issues, including heart disease, cluster headaches, fatigue, loss of concentration, and poor sexual performance.

Zane T. Cagle and our Missouri truck accident lawyers support any rules and regulations that make the roads safer. We have seen firsthand the devastation that an 80,000lb truck can do when driven by a fatigued driver. The injuries can be catastrophic, including paralysis, traumatic brain injury, even death. The experienced, tenacious attorneys at The Cagle Law Firm know how to handle these cases and know how to retrieve the maximum settlement amount for such injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident in Missouri, Illinois, or Kentucky, call 1.800.685.3302 today for a free consultation.

SOURCES: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; Stand up for Trucking

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