The Department of Transportation announced July 16 that reforms to the truck driver hours-of-service (HOS) rule may save American taxpayers more than $4 billion over 14 years, Business Insider reports. But the question remains whether loosening the HOS rule, which essentially determines how many hours a truck driver can work without taking breaks, will have an impact on highway safety and cause an increase in truck accidents. Truck drivers have argued that the old rules were too rigid and slashed their take-home pay.
Understanding the HOS Rule
The HOS rule dictates how many hours a truck driver can work, limiting a driver to 11 hours of driving time per day within a 14-hour window. Until recently, this rule was easily ignored because most drivers logged their hours on paper. It was easy to falsify the numbers. But, an Obama-era regulation that went into effect in December 2017, requires truck drivers to use an electronic logging device or ELD that automatically records how many hours they are working. This means it’s not possible to fudge the numbers any more. If they violate the HOS rule, the ELD would reflect that and put them at risk of penalties or even losing their commercial license.
The goal of the HOS rule has been to make the nation’s highways safer. In 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimated that ELDs prevent up to 1,714 crashes, 544 injuries and 24 deaths each year. Safety advocates support ELDs and say that truck drivers are finally getting the rest they need, which makes roadways safer as well as limiting the number of drowsy drivers operating these large vehicles.
How the Law Will Change
In May, the FMCSA announced four major changes to the HOS rules. First, truck drivers may extend their driving window by up to two hours if they are driving in adverse conditions. Secondly, drivers may take their 30-minute rest period after eight consecutive hours of driving. Under the current law, drivers must take their rest period within those eight hours.
Also, truck drivers can now meet the 10-hour off-duty requirement by taking two periods of rest. One period must log at least seven hours in their sleeper berth and at least two hours logged in or outside of the sleeper berth. Previously, drivers had to take one 10-hour rest period everyday and spend at least eight hours in the berth. Short-haul trucking must also follow the same laws as long-haul truckers. These changes are expected to take effect on Sept. 29.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
Drowsy driving is one of the most common causes of truck accidents. Research by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) has found that truck drivers who were behind the wheel for more than eight hours are twice as likely to crash. Truckers’ long work hours cause sleep deprivation, disruption of normal sleep/rest cycles and fatigue, which may result in deadly crashes.
Victims who have been injured in truck accidents may be able to seek compensation for damages including, but not limited to, medical expenses, lost income and benefits, hospitalization, rehabilitation, permanent injuries, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc. Families of deceased accident victims may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation for damages such as lost future income, funeral costs, medical expenses, pain and suffering, etc.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, or if you have lost a loved one in a motor vehicle accident caused by a negligent or careless driver, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.
For over 49 years, our skilled accident attorneys have established a proven track record of helping injured victims. Our law firm recently recovered $5,600,000 for a bicyclist who was hit by a van, and $2,550,000 for another victim of a truck accident, and $3,000,000 for a pedestrian who was hit by a car, and the full $1,000,000 insurance policy for a pedestrian who was hit by a truck, and $4,625,000 for a driver who was in a car and was hit by a van, and $2,500,000 for a man who fell through an improperly secured hole. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.
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