Long-haul truck drivers are facing a new set of rules designed to prevent crashes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says the new rules are based on research into driver fatigue. Some in the trucking industry say the rules are unnecessary.
Driver fatigue is a significant cause of truck accidents. Truck drivers face financial pressures to get their loads delivered as quickly as possible, which can lead to long hours on the road. Because of the dangers posed by fatigued truck drivers, the FMCSA has imposed limits on the number of hours that truck drivers can be on the road without a break. The new rules refine those limits.
The changes involve:
- Taking a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of driving
- Cutting the maximum hours per week from 82 hours to 70 hours
- Requiring a 34-hour break once a week
The trucking industry has objected to the rules, saying it has already taken measures to reduce truck accidents. The number of large truck accidents dropped from 5,282 in 2000 to about 4,000 in 2011. The new rules, it contends, will only raise cost of doing business.
The FMCSA agrees that the number of fatal truck accidents have fallen. After all, the numbers cited by the trucking industry come from the agency. But fatigue is still a serious issue for truck drivers, and more work is needed to reduce the number of accidents that could be prevented with adequately rested drivers. The FMCSA believes that the new requirements could prevent about 1,400 accidents. That could eliminate about 560 injures and 19 deaths each year.
- Our law firm represents clients who have been injured or lost loved ones in truck accidents in Los Angeles and Southern California. View our truck driver fatigue page for more information.