Trucking accidents can be devastating because of the sheer size and weight of the vehicles, as well as the potentially hazardous loads that some carry. Many truck accidents are caused by driver fatigue as carriers and drivers strive to work as many hours or shifts as possible to meet deadlines, which often entail bonus compensation.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) has proposed a number of measures designed to decrease the number of truck accidents, including one that calls for an amendment to the 34-hour restart rule regarding driver fatigue.
In a study of the proposal, the FMCSA found that the rest period only benefited day drivers because the night-shift drivers were only able to get one night of sleep in their restart. By adding another nighttime rest period, or two off-duty periods from midnight to 6 a.m., the night drivers were able to return to their effectiveness.
Unfortunately, the trucking industry is claiming that the added rest period runs counter to the purpose of the rule because the restart could allow a driver to work more than 80 hours in seven days as compared to 60 hours before the 2003 restart rule was implemented.
Other regulatory proposals include limiting heavy trucks to 68 miles per hour, a move that is questioned by the Owner-Operated Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA). The group cited a University of Arkansas study demonstrating that roadways are less safe if trucks and cars travel at different speeds. The FMCSA, however, in its 2009 statistics showed that speed was the number one factor in truck crashes.
The U.S. Department of Transportation also wants to require e-log books or on-board electronic devices on trucks. This would eliminate record falsification, track driver hours and prevent carriers from exceeding hours-of-service rules that contribute to driver fatigue, a major factor in trucking and motor vehicle accidents.
Truck accidents are deadly anywhere, but on Northern California highways where traffic congestion is a way of life, a fatigued driver or one who has limited training can be an even greater hazard, leading to accidents involving more motorists.
Truck accidents might involve complex rules and regulations that could have played a part in how an accident occurred. If you or a loved one is injured in an accident involving a big rig in the San Francisco Bay Area, it is essential to contact a reputable trucking accident lawyer in San Francisco to assure that all your rights and options are protected.