New Trucking Regulations Decrease Trucker Fatigue Today

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An announcement today by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) confirms that new federal regulations go into effect today, July 1, 2013. U.S. Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, former congressman from Peoria, Ill., stated that “[t]hese rules make common sense, data-driven changes to reduce truck driver fatigue and improve safety for every traveler on our highways and roads” and that [s]afety is our highest priority.” In short, the new regulations were designed to prevent truckers from becoming tired and fatigued on their trucking routes across America.

Now, any driver who operates a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is subject to these new regulations. A CMV is defined as any vehicle used in business that travels interstate (across state lines) and matches one of the following descriptions:
• weighs 10,001 pounds or more;
• has a gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight or 10,001 pounds or more;
• is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) for financial compensation; or • is operating in interstate or intrastate (within a single state) commerce and is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring signage.

The regulations that became effective today were published back in December 2011 in order to give trucking companies and their employees time to digest the hour of service and related rules, and work toward their implementation and enforcement. The effective date of the regulations was February of 2012 and today is the actual day of compliance. The argument for these rules is that unregulated trucker operation of CMVs without hours of service would lead to more truck crashes, driver fatigue and chronic health problems. The FCMSA has stated that these rules are the product of years of research and truck driver input and should “save 19 lives and prevent approximately 1,400 crashes and 560 injuries each year.”

The new hours of service rules are as follows: 1) the maximum average work week for truck drivers is 70 hours, which has been decreased from a maximum of 82 hours; 2) mandatory rest period of 34 consecutive hours including a minimum of two nights of rest (from 1 to 5 a.m.) after reaching the maximum average work week of 70 hours; 3) mandatory 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift; and 4) 11-hour daily driving limit and 14-hour work day. Enforcement of these rules is accomplished by the imposition of an $11,000.00 fine against trucking companies for each violation of the hours of service offense and $2,750.00 maximum penalty against the trucker for each offense. Some examples of the hours of service logbook rules can be found here. A summary of the regulations can be found here.

It remains to be seen whether these new regulations have enough sharp teeth to seriously take a bite out of trucking companies and truckers so as to act as a deterrent and modify their unlawful behavior. However, in theory and based upon the research, the regulations are the product of common sense with a view toward a realistic economic model of profit/loss of modern day trucking transportation and competition. Yet, the government thumb screw of approach of mandatory shortening of hours cuts into the earnings of a truck driver and makes time sensitive deliveries more rigorous and potentially less profitable. Consequently, there will always be truckers and trucking companies who may willfully and/or negligently buck the rules. If such conduct results in injury to other motorists and passengers, then the trucker and trucking company should be held responsible for such action/omission.

To that end, if you are injured in a tractor trailer collision or truck accident in Georgia, Mr. Ford can help you receive the maximum compensation you deserve for your injuries, lost wages or earnings, past/present/future physical/mental pain and suffering, and other damages. In trucking crash cases, it is imperative that you contact an experienced attorney immediately to secure and preserve physical and documentary evidence of the crash before such evidence is destroyed or moved.

The Law Offices of Kevin C. Ford represent clients throughout the state of Georgia who were seriously injured or lost a loved one in truck collisions. As such, The Law Offices of Kevin C. Ford is currently accepting trucking accident cases throughout Georgia. It is not uncommon for trucking accident victims to suffer catastrophic and life changing injuries requiring expensive medical bills and future medical and therapeutic treatment. Mr. Ford can help injured victims obtain monetary compensation necessary to pay for past, present and future medical care and provide for a new start. Please contact us today for a free consultation.