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Legal Blog

Will Trump’s New Hours of Service Regulations Cause More Accidents

The United States Department of Transportation is planning to change the hours of service regulations for truck drivers. After intensive lobbying by the trucking industry, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration of the DOT is opening a two month comment period on the potential reform. It’s likely that under the direction of President Trump, the federal administration will choose to relax driving limits for truckers. The current hours of service regulations, and their enforcement by electronic logging devices, are policies put in place by the Obama administration in 2017.

Truck accidents are on the rise in America, and many of them are caused by sleepy drivers. If the Trump administration chooses to let drivers work longer hours, the trend will probably continue. The new policy could even cause an increase in truck accidents. At The Krist Law Firm, P.C. we fight to get victims the compensation they deserve after a collision. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, call us today at (281) 283-8500 or use our online form for a free consultation.

Truck Drivers Must Obey Strict Driving Hours For Now

Under the current hours of service regulations, truck drivers must obey the following rules:

  • Truckers can drive no more than 11 hours per day, with the possibility of driving longer if they return to the same terminal, or if the weather is bad
  • Drivers must take a minimum 30 minute break during each daily driving period
  • No matter the length of the break they take, drivers have to stop driving 14 hours after they start driving–subject to limited exceptions
  • Each driving period must start after a 10 hour rest
  • Drivers cannot work more than 60 hours during a seven day work period, or 70 hours over an eight day period
  • The weekly driving period starts over after a 34 hour rest period

According to the American Trucking Associations, a lobby group, these strict limits and the use of electronics to precisely log driving time has been difficult for the industry to adapt to. Before, drivers were self-reporting their own hours in paper logs, making it easy to fudge the numbers to pack more working hours into the week. Now, drivers can face fines starting at $1,000 for a violation, and the police may force drivers who break the law to stop driving until they accumulate enough off-duty hours to get back on the road legally.

The new rules will be spelled soon out in detail in an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The release starts a two month comment period during which the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will listen to the pros and cons of the reforms before finalizing them. The proposed changes would add exceptions to the half-hour rest break rule, and allow drivers to split their sleep time or to stop the clock on any daily 14 hour period for up to three hours.

This would allow drivers to wait out bad traffic instead of having to drive through rush hour, which the truck industry claims would reduce accidents caused by congestion. The trucking industry also argues that the lack of flexibility is unfair to hardworking and honest drivers. They now have to stop miles or minutes from their destinations to avoid going over a daily time limit and breaking the law. The problem is that some unscrupulous drivers, but in most cases their dispatchers, may use any flexibility to wring more profits from the business at the price of safety.

Get the Help You Need After a Truck Accident

The number of fatal truck accidents is increasing, and tough regulations may be the only way of ensuring that all drivers are getting enough sleep. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s own numbers, 4,657 trucks were involved in fatal accidents in 2017 – a 10% increase over the previous year. The police noted that only 60 drivers in these accidents were asleep of fatigued, but this is probably not being reported accurately. A recent Department of Transportation study has estimated that 13% of truck drivers who cause a fatal accident are fatigued.

When a truck accident occurs, the victims usually obtain their compensation through the insurance claims process. Insurance companies often take advantage of victims’ lack of knowledge of the process, and pressure them into accepting inadequate settlements. But with an experienced personal injury lawyer by your side, you can fight back and get the compensation you deserve. If you need help getting a settlement after a truck accident, call The Krist Law Firm, P.C. for free at (281) 283-8500 or use our online form.