Trade groups such as the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) have spoken out against the new Hours of Service rules, saying that the new rules will not help fight fatigued driving and may actually contribute to the problem.
The new rules, among other things, limit commercial truck drivers to working no more than 14 hours per workday and also set limits on weekly work hours. On the surface, this seems like a good way to prevent fatigued driving in Davie and in communities across the country. The problem, according to OOIDA and other groups, is that the new rules are less flexible than previous regulations, which allowed drivers to take breaks when they needed to. Under the new rules, the groups say, drivers may have to max out their workday in bad weather or heavy traffic, preventing them from taking rests as needed because the 14-hour day cannot be extended.
According to transportation officials, however, the problem is not with the new Hours of Service regulations, but rather with commercial drivers and transportation companies. When truck carriers create strict deadlines that no not allow for any breaks within 14 hour days or do not account for situations such as traffic or weather, they create problems because drivers do not have time to rest if they want to make their deadlines. Federal officials, however, have given no statements as to how this problem might be dealt with.
The new Hours of Service rules that were meant to prevent truck accidents in Davie and in communities across the country have been in place for only one year but have already garnered controversy. The rules reduce workweeks for commercial truck drivers to 70 hours in eight days, with a 24-hour mandated break to reset the week. The new rules also mandate a 30-minute rest during the first eight hours of work.
But how will the new rules affect traffic collision rates in Davie and other communities? Before the new rules, there was no question that something had to change. The Department of Transportation (DOT) reported that in 2012 there were an average of 868 traffic accidents involving big rigs each day, with about 200 injuries and 11 fatalities related to those accidents each day. According to federal legislators, fatigued driving played a role in many of those crashes. In fact, a 2006 Large Truck Crash Causation Study found that 13% of serious truck accidents involved fatigued driving.
DOT claims that the new Hours of Service rules will prevent 560 injuries and 19 fatalities each year by preventing 1400 broadside collisions, rollovers, and other trucking collisions caused by fatigued driving. While this can seem like good news given that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that fatal trucking collisions increased 4% in the 2011-2012 year, the question remains what the new hours of service rules really will do to trucking accident rates.
In the meantime, those who have been injured by fatigued or negligent truck drivers and truck companies can still pursue civil claims in order to seek compensation and in order to send the message that negligent driving is unacceptable. If you have been injured and would like legal advice about your situation, you can always contact Flaxman Law Group for a free consultation.