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New Federal Rules Might Lead to More Truck Accidents


Trucking accidents can be devastating for other drivers and passengers on the road. A commercial semi-truck may weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds, which means it can do serious damages if not operated properly. Unfortunately, many commercial truck drivers are under enormous financial pressure to stay on the road as long as possible–which can lead to fatigue, and ultimately a catastrophic accident.

AAJ Opposes Proposed Abolition of Mandatory Breaks Every 8 Hours for Truckers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) imposes strict regulations on the hours-of-service (HOS) a commercial truck driver can be on the road. Recently, the FMCSA announced it was considering several critical changes to the HOS regulations. Notably, the FMCSA wants to eliminate the current requirement that commercial truck drivers take a 30-minute rest break after every 8 hours of continuous driving. Instead, the proposed rule would increase the mandatory time between rest breaks to 14 hours. In addition, the proposed rules would extend the current limit of 14 hours on-duty by up to two hours “when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions.”

The American Association for Justice (AAJ) recently filed a public comment with the FMCSA opposing the proposed changes. The AAJ noted that there are approximately 4,000 annual fatalities in truck accidents, a number that has consistently been on the rise since 2009. And driver fatigue “is undeniably a significant cause” of this rise, the AAJ noted, citing statistics from the National Transportation Safety Board that found fatigue was a factor in 30 to 40 percent of all truck accidents.

Given this, the AAJ commented it was “contrary to safety and the purpose of the HOS rules” to eliminate the 30-minute break per 8-hours driving requirement. This would simply “put commercial drivers on the road longer without a break, increasing the likelihood of driver fatigue.” This would put the drivers and other motorists at “catastrophic” risk. The AAJ pointed out that the current 8-hour limit “is not an arbitrary time frame, and in fact coincides with driver fatigue data that suggests drivers experience fatigue symptoms after 8 hours of driving time.”

The AAJ also objected to the proposed changes to the FMCSA’s “adverse conditions” rule. Under existing regulations, a driver may be on-duty for additional hours when faced with “snow, sleet, fog, or other adverse weather conditions.” But the FMCSA proposes to broaden the definition of adverse events to include “traffic or city center congestion.” The AAJ points out this would simply give trucking companies an excuse to keep their drivers on the road longer–as traffic congestion is the rule, rather than the exception, in most cities.

Contact a Knoxville Truck Accident Lawyer Today

Even if the federal government moves ahead with its rule changes, that will not absolve commercial truck drivers and trucking companies of their liability under state law for negligent acts that injure innocent people. If you have been injured in a truck accident and need advice from a qualified Knoxville personal injury lawyer, contact the offices of Fox, Farley, Willis & Burnette, Attorneys at Law, today.



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