The trucking industry is seeing a lot of division about new federal mandates that put a firmer limit on the numbers of hours that truck drivers may drive in one stretch.
The purpose of the new rules is to reduce highway deaths, many of which are truck accidents due to driver fatigue and negligence, and lead to large wrongful death lawsuits.
The new rules could put limits on how much drivers can earn and could open truckers to harsh penalties for driving too many hours.
The financial impact could be considerable. In Davidson County, TN, there are four interstates and 42,000 trucks passing through 90 miles of road every day. Fewer truck driver hours means loss of revenue for many people and businesses, but there is solid evidence that lives could be saved.
Some truck drivers are fighting the changes, and the American Trucking Assn. has even sued the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to stop the changes. The ATA states that truckers are not fighting rest. The association states that drivers were getting enough rest before the changes, and the new rules are not needed.
The new regulations are an update of 2003 rules that allow interstate truck drivers to drive as many as 11 hours in one stretch, but forced them to take a two hour break after that.
The new measures are complex, but they will have the effect of disallowing drivers from being ‘on duty’ more than 70 hours in a calendar week, which is down from 82. The regulations also set up rules for a ‘restart period,’ when drivers have to rest up from long drives. This would force them to be away from their rigs for two straight nights from 1-5 AM.
These new rules will have the most effect on long haul drivers who work at night. The federal government thinks that the new rules will save 20 lives each year and could prevent 1400 accidents. The new rules also could cut down on obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
HSInjurylaw.com is a Virginia-based personal injury law firm that blogs frequently about trucker-related accidents.