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Federal Trucking Regulator Proposes Stricter Hours of Service Rules for Truckers

By January 13, 2011July 16th, 2019Trucking Laws, Trucking Regulations

As a Missouri semi truck accident lawyer, I’m a big fan of federal hours-of-service rules for truck drivers. These are the rules that limit how long drivers may stay on the road in one work day and in one work week, ensuring that they get enough rest and that other drivers are not endangered by driver pushing through to make deadlines. That’s why I was pleased to see a proposal for stricter hours of service rules from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration last month. The proposed rules would make seven changes from existing HOS rules, including one that would likely mean longer “weekends” for drivers and another that requires all of drivers’ work days to take place within the 14-hour daily window. Trucking industry groups have blasted the new regulations as unnecessary and overly expensive.
Currently truck drivers may drive up to 11 hours a day within a 14-hour work day. The new rules may restrict drivers to 10 hours a day, although the FMCSA has said it will consider dropping it back to 11 if public comments oppose the change. More importantly for many drivers, the 14-hour work day must now include all of truckers’ on-duty activities within 13 hours, plus a one-hour break. Drivers would be required to take one 30-minute break for every seven hours on the road. And while the trucker “work week” of 60 to 70 hours and 34-hour “weekend” requirements would stay the same, there are additional requirements for the 34-hour period. Now, those 34 hours must include at least two periods from midnight to 6 a.m., and can’t be started until at least 7 days from the previous “weekend.”
The trucking industry has reacted angrily to the new rules, declaring them politicized, unnecessary and economically crippling. As a St. Louis tractor-trailer crash attorney, however, I think they’re quite modest, and may even help truckers’ jobs look more like other people’s jobs. The requirements for breaks, for example, bring trucking in line with federal law’s requirements for hourly workers. The weekend requirements give truckers a more genuine weekend — while also ensuring that they get two nights’ rest before heading back onto the road. And the restriction to 10 hours a day of actual driving, if it is adopted, could reduce truckers’ fatigue and thus increase safety. The new requirements may cut into trucking companies’ profits, but if they reduce accidents and give drivers a more human work schedule, I believe that’s nothing more than the cost of doing business in a society that values its citizens’ lives.

Accidents involving large commercial trucks are often much more severe than accidents involving two passenger vehicles, simply because 18-wheelers are so much bigger and heavier. As a result, victims can be disabled for life or killed in an instant. When those injuries were caused by a negligent truck driver or trucking company, victims and their families have the right to sue the wrongdoers. Carey, Danis & Lowe has substantial experience in trucking accident lawsuits, so we understand how to sort out the complicated financial, insurance, medical and legal issues that usually arise. Our southern Illinois tanker truck accident lawyers make sure that clients claim the fullest possible compensation for their losses and injuries. That includes past and future medical costs and lost income as well as compensation for severe injuries or the loss of a family member.
If your family was seriously hurt by a trucking accident you believe was the fault of the driver, don’t hesitate to call Carey, Danis & Lowe for a free consultation. You can reach us toll-free at 1-877-678-3400 or send us an email anytime.