As a Missouri semi truck accident attorney, I have been following the legal case surrounding the federal government’s new hours of service rules for truck drivers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is currently set to introduce new rules for how long truckers may drive in a given day and in a given week, in what it says is an effort to make the roads safer. The revision of the rules has met with stiff opposition from the trucking industry, which sued to stop implementation. The rules also displeased safety groups including Public Citizen, though for the opposite reason—the safety groups want stricter rules, while trucking groups largely believe the new rules are too strict and would prefer to keep the existing ones. The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments in the case March 15, as Heavy Duty Trucking magazine’s website reported March 18.
The challenge was brought on behalf of trucking industry interests by the American Trucking Associations. That group opposes the new rules because, it says, they will place a heavy burden on truckers who are trying to manage their time effectively. These include a requirement that truck drivers to take a “weekend”—actually a 34-hour break that can happen anytime in the week—no more than once every seven days. Another rule the ATA objects to requires drivers to take a 30-minute no-driving break after eight straight hours on the road. This, the association says, is onerous, inflexible and not supported by data about trucking safety. It also raised objections to the FMCSA’s refusal to delay the July 1 start date for the new hours of service rules, saying a ruling from the court could come close to that time. For that reason, the ATA said, the trucking industry could waste millions on training to follow rules that might not be implemented.
As a St. Louis tractor-trailer accident lawyer, I believe the changes, which are aimed at reducing truck driver fatigue, will make everyone safer. The last time hours of service were changed, in 2004, the work day was expanded from 10 hours to 11 hours and the work week was expanded from 60 hours to 77 hours. (For comparison, a normal work week for hourly workers is 40 hours, and overtime must be paid for more than 40 hours.) A study published in 2005 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that truck drivers reported more fatigue under the new rules, with 15 percent saying they fell asleep at the wheel. Those are the drivers who admit it—and because sleeping at the wheel can mean professional discipline, some drivers undoubtedly lied. Even more disturbingly, a quarter of drivers said they drive even more than the new rules permitted, and a third admitted to falsifying their log books. With reports like these, I believe stricter rules are a smart idea—even if they do cost the trucking industry some money.
At Carey, Danis & Lowe, we represent victims of trucking accidents and their families because we know just how serious these crashes can be. When a large commercial truck hits an ordinary family’s car, pickup or SUV, it brings many times the weight and force to the accident. Simple physics means that the people in the smaller car can suffer very serious injuries or even death—regardless of who was at fault. And to make matters worse, truckers and trucking companies have a variety of financial incentives that make them unsafe—to drive long hours, in bad weather, and with poorly maintained trucks. Our southern Illinois 18-wheeler accident attorneys help victims and their families seek justice and fair compensation from truckers and trucking companies that caused accidents with this kind of negligence.
If you or someone your love suffered a serious injury because of a trucker’s bad decision, don’t wait to call Carey, Danis & Lowe. You can reach us through our website or call 1-877-678-3400.
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