The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) last week announced final regulations regarding truck drivers’ Hours of Service rules that dictate how long truck drivers can be on the road before taking mandated rest breaks. According to a report on Roll Call, this directive has been in the works since 2018 and is aimed at settling years of debate concerning the Hours of Service rules. While it does not add hours that drivers can operate a truck during a workday, it will provide them with more options for when they can take breaks.
What These New Rules Mean
Previously, the rules had limited most commercial truck drivers to 11 hours of driving in a 14-hour workday, but with specified breaks. The timing, nature and duration of breaks are more flexible under the revised rules. This announcement comes during challenging times for the truck industry, which is facing an extremely high demand for shipping during the coronavirus pandemic. The need has been great especially for those delivering food to grocery stores or medical equipment to hospitals. However, others, such as those delivering retail or auto products have seen a dramatic drop in activity.
The new rule would lengthen the maximum on-duty period for short-haul truckers from 12 to 14 hours and extend the driving-distance limit from 100 air miles to 150 air miles. It would also allow drivers under certain adverse driving conditions to extend their window by up to two hours. The new rule would also change the requirement that drivers take a 30-minute rest break within the first eight hours of coming on duty. Instead, it allows them to take a break after eight consecutive hours of driving.
Any on-duty time not spent driving can be counted as break time under the new regulations. In addition, it changes the accounting of hours drivers spend in the sleeping berths of their trucks. The new rules will go into effect 120 days after being published with the Federal Register.
Tired Truck Drivers
While the new rules have been welcomed by the trucking industry, safety advocates and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters have been critical of them. Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, issued a statement that the new rule is contradictory to the FMCSA’s statutory duty to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities. Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa said allowing truck drivers to work longer and longer each day puts everyone on the roads at risk.
The purpose of requiring truck drivers to take mandated breaks was to prevent drowsy driving. Sleepy truck drivers have caused accidents that have resulted in major injuries and fatalities. The earlier changes in the federal rules had been made by the Obama Administration with the goal of reducing truck accidents and enhancing highway safety.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
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 48 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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