Administration Moves to Ease Drive-time Rules for Truckers By Foley Law Firm on August 07, 2019

Large truck on the highwayThe Scranton, PA injury collision attorneys at the Foley Law Firm know just how dangerous large truck accidents can be. That’s why we’re here to help crash victims and their loved ones, and why we keep tabs on relevant happenings in the trucking industry that could impact road safety.

According to a July story in the trade publication Claims Journal, hours of service laws could be changing given the influence that the trucking industry has on President Donald Trump. We’d like to take a balanced, apolitical look at this issue, particularly how changes in these federal regulations could affect commuters and other motorists.

Current Hours of Service Laws

The current hours of service laws established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provide these two guidelines regarding drive-time that are under contention from lobbying groups:

  • 14-Hour Driving Window - Truck drivers can only be on-duty for 14 hours a day. They must rest for 10 straight hours before resuming duty.
  • 11-Hour Driving Limit - During the 14-hour driving window, truck drivers can only operate their vehicle for 11 total hours. A mandatory 30-minute break is required after 8 hours of driving.

How These Drive-Time Laws May Change

The trucking lobby and advocates for independent truckers want to give truck drivers more leeway to determine when they should take breaks as well as when they should get off the road to take extended rests.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is calling for an elimination of the mandatory 30-minute break, and also proposed the ability to stop the electronic monitoring clock in a commercial truck for up to three hours per day. While this additional three hours would potentially allow truckers to rest or wait out heavy traffic, there is the risk of effectively creating a de facto 17-hour daily work window.

Statistics on Large Truck Crashes

Our Scranton lawyers are particularly concerned about relaxed trucking regulations simply given the realities of large truck crashes.

According to recent numbers from the FMCSA, there were 4,657 large trucks involved in fatal collisions in 2017, a 10 percent increase from 2016. Of those thousands of fatal crashes, 60 truck drivers were reported to be “asleep or fatigued.” The Claims Journal report notes that the number of truck crashes linked to fatigue may be underreported in police reports and crash forms.

Legitimate Safety Questions About Relaxed Regulations

Driver fatigue is a major cause for concern on the roads, especially when it comes to people in commercial trucking. The hours of service laws currently on the books are intended to prevent driver-fatigue-related collisions from happening. If truck drivers are given more leeway to avoid breaks and drive despite fatigue, the chances of fatigue behind the wheel, injury crashes, and fatal collisions will likely increase.

We will continue to monitor this debate about hours of service regulations in the trucking industry. If any changes are signed into law or other major happenings arise, we’ll be here to break down the issue and consider matters from different angles.

Learn More About Truck Accident Cases

If you would like more information about your legal options in the event of a collision with a large truck, be sure to contact our team of truck accident attorneys. The team at the Foley Law Firm can be reached by phone in Scranton at (570) 342-8194.

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