Hours-of-Service Regulations May Be Responsible For An Increase In Trucking Accidents

Accident Between A Car And A TruckIn response to an influx of serious accidents caused by fatigued truck drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented hours-of-service rules for trucking companies. We live in a society that places significant importance on material goods, and trucks often deliver those goods. The more goods delivered in a space of time, the more money earned by the trucking company. For this reason, truck drivers are often compelled to drive exorbitantly long hours in order to satisfy their employers, and earn extra money themselves. Unfortunately, driving for 18 hours straight is not just mentally and physically exhausting — it’s extremely dangerous.

Fatigued truck drivers are responsible for thousands of trucking accidents every year. Unfortunately, when passenger cars and trucks are involved in a collision with a tractor-trailer, the fatality rate for the driver and passengers of the vehicle is very high. The hours-of-service rules impose the following regulations on truck drivers:

  • 11 hours of consecutive driving, maximum
  • 14 hours on-duty (paperwork, maintenance, loading, and unloading), maximum
  • 10 consecutive hours off-duty before resuming driving or on-duty, minimum
  • No more than 60 hours on-duty in a seven-day period
  • No more than 70 hours on-duty in an eight-day period

The Restart Rule

Since the inception of the hours-of-service rules in 2011, trucking accidents have gone down. However, with the 2013 introduction of the new 34-hour restart rule, critics are concerned that more trucks are on the road during periods of heavy morning traffic. The 34-hour restart basically resets a truck driver’s weekly hours. In order to “restart,” a driver must remain off-duty for a period of at least 34 hours. Additionally, that 34-hour period must include at least two 1AM to 5AM rest periods.

Unfortunately, it seems this new provision has increased the amount of trucks on the road at peak morning hours, and it has also increased trucking accidents. According to the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), an analysis of truck GPS databases showed a shift of truck traffic from night to morning and from weekends to weekdays. This shift occurred after the 2013 restart changes.

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“After many years of crash decreases, everyone knows our industry has experienced an uptick in crashes,” said ATRI Research Advisory Committee member, Dean Newell. “This latest analysis from ATRI validates both changes in operations and crash risk that seems to be associated with the restart rule. Regulations should serve to improve safety, not create additional safety risks.”

Kevin J. Roach – Trucking Accident Lawyer

If you have been injured in a trucking accident, the extent of property damage and physical injury can be devastating. While most truck drivers adhere to safe driving practices, the few who do not put everyone on the road in grave danger. Attorney Kevin J. Roach protects the rights of accident victims, including those involved in crashes with large trucks. He will fight to get you the compensation you deserve for medical bills, property damage, pain and suffering, lost wages, and any other associated damages. Our legal team has the skill, experience, and knowledge of trucking laws to position you for the best possible outcome. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.