The Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has implemented new rules as of July 1, 2013 that will affect long-haul truckers across the country. The new set of rules aims to improve safety for motorists and truckers alike by attempting to reduce truck driver fatigue. Truck driver fatigue has been the cause of a number of accidents. If you have been injured as a result of a trucking accident, we encourage you to speak with a Tennessee attorney. Below you can watch a recent interview on the topic with our attorney, Jim Higgins:
The FMCSA, the agency that promulgated the rules, was created in 2000 to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that involve large trucks and buses. The FMCSA believes that the new rules are just another step in protecting the safety of motorists and truckers. Spokesperson for the agency Duane DeBruyne stated,” We believe the safety benefits provided by the rule are paramount.”
The rule has four basic changes which will affect truckers’ hours-of-service. Those changes include:
• Limiting long-haul truck drivers to no more than eight hours of continuous driving before the driver is required to take a 30-minute break. Also, there must be no more than 11 hours total driving following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
• Reducing the maximum number of hours a truck driver can drive during a work week by 12 hours. That number had been 82 driving hours per week but will now be limited to 70 driving hours per week.
• Requiring truck drivers who maximize their weekly driving hours to take rest at least from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. for two nights. This requirement is part of the rule’s “34-hour restart” provision that allows a driver to restart his or her total time worked in a work week by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty.
• Clarifying how a driver can count his or her hours in the cab’s sleeper berth, in addition to being off duty, in computing overall hours-of-service.
The FMCSA will levy fines on trucking companies who violate the rules. The penalties will range from $1,000 to $11,000 depending on the severity of the violation. In addition, drivers themselves could face civil penalties up to $2,750 for each offense.
The trucking industry has been very opposed to the implementation of the new rules. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) contends that further regulation will have a negative effect on drivers’ pay and the cost of shipping. The ATA believes the previously existing rules were working well already to reduce the number of crashes involving large trucks.
The Higgins Firm has dealt with several cases where the amount of hours worked by truckers was a central issue. We have seen first hand how the fatigue of overworked truck drivers has led to catastrophic injuries for several of our clients. At The Higgins Firm, our team of experienced Tennessee truck accident attorneys has been successful against many large trucking companies. If you have been injured as a result of a trucking accident, we encourage you to contact a Tennessee trucking accident attorney.