New Hours of Service Rule For Truck Drivers Already In Place

Driver fatigue is one of the known causes of truck accidents. This is because of the tremendous pressure that their employers put on them to drive as many hours as possible to accomplish their target. In an attempt to reduce truck accidents due to driver fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) of the US Department of Transportation established new Hours of Service regulations.

A Chicago injury attorney will tell you that truck companies can be held liable for any injuries that will be incurred for violating safety laws. The new rule took effect February 2012 and compliance started July 2013. The new regulations provides for the following:

  • The maximum average work week was reduced to 72 hours from the previous 82 hours
  • Truck drivers who has reached the maximum work hours can return to work after resting for 34 consecutive hours, including a minimum of two nights when their body clock demands the most sleep
  • Truck drivers can take a 30-minute break during the first 8 hours of their shift

The new ruling maintained the current 11-hour daily driving limit and 14-hour work day. Any trucking company that violates the new regulations could face the maximum penalties for each offense. In addition, companies could be subjected to a fine of $11,000 per offense if they exceed the driving limit by more than three hours. Drivers could pay civil penalties of up to $2,750 for every offense.

The new hours of service rule covers commercial motor vehicles used as part of a business and is involved in interstate commerce and fits any of the following:

  • Weighs more than 10,001 pounds
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination wright rating of more than 10,001 pounds
  • Designed or used to transport more than 16 passengers not for compensation and 9 or more passengers for compensation
  • Transports hazardous materials in a quantity that requires placards

“No Zone” Truck Areas – A Common Cause of Road Accidents

An 11-hour cross-country drive on an 18-wheeler truck, also called a big-rig, is a grueling task. It can make any driver feel fatigued and drowsy, making roads unsafe for other motorists in much smaller vehicles.

An article in the website of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C., mentions how the significant weight and size of these big trucks serve as threats to possible major road accidents, if their drivers do not observe extraordinary caution when handling them. Extending up to 70 feet in length and weighing up to 40 tons or 80,000 lbs., these enormous vehicles, oftentimes driven at fast speeds, can easily crush smaller vehicles (and their drivers) like tin cans. This is why, before being issued a commercial driver’s license or CDL, drivers are required to take additional instructions and training on the proper handling and operation of this type of vehicles.

One concern truck drivers ought to be constantly wary of is the blind spot area, more commonly known as the “no zone” area. This area, which includes the truck’s front, back and driver’s side, is that spot where truck drivers almost always fail to notice other vehicles. Thus, it has been a common cause of road accidents, causing severe or fatal injuries to the other vehicles’ drivers, besides major damage to properties.

Drowsiness and fatigue, and sometimes intoxication, add greatly to a truck driver’s lack of keen observation while on the road. These factors also greatly affect a driver’s presence of mind and alertness, causing him/her to fail to avoid possible accidents.

It is to solve the issue of sleepiness and fatigue why every truck is designed with a sleeper berth – to afford drivers a good rest between long drives. Besides allowing them to take rest, a law has also been passed which states the maximum number of hours allowed of drivers – 11 driving hours, which is part of a driver’s 14- hour duty. This law is mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) of all drivers and trucking companies (the FMCSA is a division of the US Department of Transportation that is in control of trucking and other transportation-related businesses. These laws are designed to increase the safety of truck drivers and reduce the amount of personal injury lawsuits that arise due to trucking accidents.

If you have been hurt in a truck accident because of someone else’s negligence, be sure to contact a personal injury lawyer today to discuss your situation. They’ll be able to guide you through the process and make sure you are justly compensated.