Fox & Farley, Attorneys at Law

Hours of service rule helps curb fatigue among truck drivers

Truck accidents can be frightening due to the sizes of the vehicles and trailers involved. Tennessee residents who are concerned with safety as they share the roads with semi-trucks may wonder about issues like fatigue and the health of truck drivers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was established to oversee such issues in an effort to prevent accidents that may cause injuries or death to both truck drivers and those sharing the roads with them. A significant element of the agency’s efforts has been the oversight of drivers’ hours of service.

An 11-hour driving limit was established to ensure that drivers’ health and safety is protected in their work environment. While a 10-hour limit has been evaluated, studies do not indicate a significant difference in safety benefits with the one-hour reduction. The aim of the Hours of Service rule is the reduction of excessive work time that could increase fatigue and result in truck accidents.

It is recognized that the Hours of Service requirements enables drivers to obtain sufficient rest in an effort to reduce issues such as fatigue suffered by those who were previously required to work up to 82 hours in a week. The 70-hour limit in a week offers a 15 percent decrease in time spent driving. The rule is expected to impact business slightly, but as the costs are spread across numerous households and goods, the average annual cost per household is expected to be only $4. Fines are in place to penalize those who may choose to violate these rules.

An individual dealing with injuries suffered in an accident with a semi-truck may wonder whether driver fatigue played a role. An attorney could assist in investigating company logs to determine whether the Hours of Service rule was violated.

Source: FMCSA, “Hours of Service”, July 18, 2014

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