The Trump administration is now a step closer to relaxing federal hours-of-service regulations for truck drivers, which govern the amount of time truckers can spend behind the wheel, Detroit News reports. While this is a move that has been long sought by the trucking industry, it has been vociferously opposed by safety advocates who warn it could lead to more devastating big rig accidents.
Safety Advocates Oppose Lax Rules
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), has issued proposed changes to the hours of service rules that dictate breaks truck drivers are required to take, and their time on and off duty. FMCSA officials say the new rules will put more power into the hands of truck drivers and trucking companies and that the agency listened to drivers and their call for more flexible rules.
For years, trade groups that represented truck drivers and motor carriers have pushed for less rigid hours of service rules saying that the laws were too rigid and out of step with daily realities for most drivers. President Donald Trump has been a supporter of the industry rolling back regulatory oversight.
Existing rules limit truck drivers to 11 hours of driving time within a 14-hour on-duty window. Drivers should have had 10 consecutive hours off duty before the on-duty clock starts again. A driver who is going to be driving for more than eight hours must take a 30-minute off-duty break before hitting the eight-hour mark.
Under the new proposed rules, truck drivers could take a break when they are on duty but not driving. The administration also is proposing to allow drivers to “pause” the 14-hour driving window for an off-duty break of up to three hours, provided the trucker still takes the 10 consecutive hours off duty at the end of the work shift.
Safety Will Suffer
However, highway safety groups have warned that putting the revisions into place would dangerously weaken the regulations. Advocates say the government is offering flexibility without regard for the fact these weakened rules could be exploited by the trucking industry, with devastating consequences for the traveling public. According to a report released by the FMCSA, there were 4,657 large trucks involved in fatal crashes in 2017, a 10 percent increase from the year before.
Tired or sleepy truck drivers are more likely to cause devastating crashes. The most common accidents we see caused by drowsy truck drivers are rear-end and head-on collisions, which often result in fatal injuries for occupants of other vehicles.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident caused by a fatigued truck driver, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the truck driver and the trucking company. An experienced California truck accident lawyer will be able to advice you regarding your legal rights and options.