Federal Hour-of-Service Regs for Truckers May Soon Be Relaxed. Here's What You Need to Know.
Let's face it. Commercial truck drivers are at a great risk of getting drowsy behind the wheel. They spend more time traveling West Virginia roads than most other drivers. When one of these massive vehicles careens out of control, lives are put at stake. Those who survive truck crashes often sustain serious injuries, some of which require lifelong treatment.
That's why we have federal regulations that limit how many hours truckers can spend on the road. Current regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) limit the amount of time truckers can drive to 11 hours within a 14-hour on-duty shift. In addition, truckers must have 10 consecutive hours off-duty before driving again and must take a 30-minute break when working more than eight hours. Drivers who violate these regulations can face penalties, such as being marked as out of service for at least one day. This, however, may soon change.
USDOT moves to loosen regulations
The Associated Press reports that the U.S. Department of Transportation is currently taking measures to loosen these regulations. For years, the trucking industry has advocated for looser regulations. Bill Sullivan, a lobbyist for the American Trucking Association, is hopeful that the regulations will be relaxed and cites a "stronger relationship with the Trump administration than previous ones." Many truckers are paid by the mile, so if they’re not driving they’re not making money.
This move by the USDOT has raised concerns among safety advocates who warn that loosening these regulations could have dangerous consequences.
What federal crash data reveals
According to the FMCSA, there were approximately 4,237 fatal crashes involving large trucks in 2017 — 57 percent occurred on rural roads and 27 percent on interstate highways. Approximately 83 percent of fatal truck crashes occurred between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. — a time period when the circadian rhythm (the body's natural clock) programs us to sleep.
Of the fatal crashes reported in 2017, 60 of the truck drivers involved were either drowsy or fell asleep behind the wheel. The National Transportation Safety Board, however, claims that the number of tired truckers may actually be higher since many drowsy driving crashes are underreported. In addition, there were 344,000 truck crashes that resulted in injuries during the same year.
With the potential loosening of these essential safety regulations, it's likely we could see an increase in truck crashes caused by drowsy driving. Should you or a loved one sustain injuries due to being struck by a tired trucker, it's important that you discuss your matter with an experienced West Virginia truck accident attorney as soon as possible.
Truck crashes are often complex and require a thorough investigation. As trucking companies scramble to manipulate records and hide wrongdoing on their part, the legal team at Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC will get to the bottom of it and fight to maximize the compensation you deserve. Don't wait. Contact us today to get started.