The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced recently that new Federal Regulations, which will hopefully improve safety on the roads by reducing truck driver fatigue, have been enacted. The new, so-called “hours of service” regulations became effective on July 1, 2013. These regulations were first announced in December of 2011 by FMCSA, and trucking companies were given 18 months to adopt the new rules for their truck drivers. The new hours of service rules do the following:
(1) limit the maximum average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours, down from the current maximum allowed of 82 hours;
(2) allow truck drivers who reach the maximum 70 hours of driving within 1 week to resume driving after they have rested for 34 consecutive hours; and (3) require truck drivers to take a 30 minute break during the first 8 hours of a driving shift.
There is presently an 11 hour daily driving limit, which was unchanged by the new rules. Trucking companies and drivers that violate the rules could face penalties, including significant monetary fines per offense. For more information regarding the new safety regulations, please see the FMCSA’s web site at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/HOS.
It is well known that driving long daily and weekly hours on a continuing basis without adequate rest is associated with chronic fatigue. Such fatigue imposes an increased risk of trucking accidents, and can lead to serious and chronic health conditions in truck drivers. The FMCSA estimates that the new safety regulations will save lives and prevent many accident-related injuries each year. The trucking accident attorneys at Suthers & Harper have represented individuals who were seriously injured as a result of tractor trailer collisions and other trucking accidents, and have represented the families of victims who were killed in such accidents.