After two years of study and deliberation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has released its new ruling on how many hours a truck driver can work. Known as the Hours of Service of Drivers Final Rule, the regulations reflect new data on driver fatigue and safety, though not all organizations are happy about the changes. These changes will hopefully keep driver fatigue in check – thus limiting the dangers of trucking accidents – and are sure to impact areas high trucking traffic such as northern California, especially the Bay Area.
In 2010, the FMSCA announced that it was going to look into changing the amount of hours truckers could drive in a day and in a week. The original proposal included the following provisions:
After a year of research, including a comment session for the public to weigh in on the proposal, the FMCSA has issued its new rule.
The FMCSA believes its final rule reflects both public input and data relating to driver safety and fatigue. It includes the following provisions:
Though the FMSCA claims its rules were changed to reflect new safety and fatigue data, they have met with criticism from both safety groups and trade organizations.
The Truck Safety Coalition calls the lack of change to the daily driving limit “dangerous” and denies the FMCSA’s claim that no change will help reduce driver fatigue. It also notes that the 70-hour work week possible is still much higher than the average 40-hour week most Americans serve even though truck driving is more dangerous than most other occupations.
On the other side of the debate, the Retail Industry Leaders Association believes the new rules go too far. The association represents retail companies that use trucks to transport their goods across the country. It claims the new rules will cause inefficiencies in the shipping process, increase costs and lead to more congestion on the nation’s roadways.
The new truck driver hours-of-service rules went into effect on February 27, with full compliance required by July 1, 2013.
With the implementation of these new rules, hopefully the FMCSA has created a good balance between business needs and highway safety, but unfortunately, truck accidents from driver fatigue will inevitably still occur. If you or a loved one has been the victim of an accident involving truck driver fatigue, please contact an experienced personal injury attorney in your area to be advised of your rights and options.
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