New federal rules will ensure that truck drivers get more rest. The Hours of Service rules went into effect on July 1 and mandate:
-That truck drivers work a maximum of 70 hours weekly (previously the limit was 82 hours)
-That truckers must rest for 34 consecutive hours before “resetting” a week and starting their new 70-hour week. The rest period must include at least two nights of 1am-5am rest time.
-That truckers have a maximum 14-hour workday and a daily driving limit of 11 hours.
-That truck drivers must take a half-hour rest during the first eight hours of a working shift.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) predicts that the new regulations could prevent 19 fatalities annually and stop 1400 trucking accidents across the country.
While fatigue is a contributing factor in car and truck accidents in Homestead and across the country, however, not everyone agrees that the new rules are needed. The American Trucking Associations Inc. challenged the new rules in court. In early August, a federal appeals court upheld the rules. The only change made is that short-haul truck drivers will not need to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of their shift. U.S. Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown also rejected legal claims made by some groups, including the Truck Safety Coalition, that the rules should go further.
While the American Trucking Associations Inc. v. FMCSA, 12-01092, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (Washington) seems to be resolved, however, the debate continues. The American Trucking Association Inc. and other groups allege that the new rules will reduce productivity and worsen a labor shortage without addressing other causes behind truck accidents. Other groups allege that more can be done to prevent truck and car accidents in Homestead and other communities. They argue that 70-hour workweeks are still too long and unsafe.
The studies and research do seem to suggest that more needs to be done to prevent truck-related traffic accidents in Homestead and across the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics have the eighth most dangerous job in terms of worker fatality. Truckers also have a shorter life expectancy when compared with other workers. The Centers for Disease Control report that truck drivers have a life expectancy of 61. That is 16 years shorter than the average American.
A joint 2007 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the FMCSA concluded that fatigue is a factor in about 13% of serious truck accidents involving large trucks. The trucking industry has always maintained that the number is quite lower. According to the NHTSA, in 2011 truck fatalities across the country increased 2% and injuries rose 10%. It has led to more opinions in the debate: what causes these accidents and what can be done to prevent them?
It is true that truck-related fatalities and injuries in Homestead and other communities are caused by a number of factors, including driver inexperience, driver error, poor truck maintenance, fatigue, distraction, and other factors. Personal injury attorneys in Homestead and other communities often spend months compiling data and working with private investigators to determine the cause of a crash. However, if the research is true and the new rules will save 19 lives, surely that is worth the effort.
Have you been seriously injured in a trucking collision? Contact the Flaxman Law Group today confidential free consultation. If you would like to have a preliminary discussion about your situation or have questions about your options, you can always contact the Flaxman Law Group for a free case review.