Trucker fatigue has been a severe problem on US roadways for decades, as drivers push the edge of their physical limits in the rush to deliver cargo on time. All this time behind the wheel takes its toll and wears them out, potentially leading to fatal and injury-causing truck accidents. Years ago, the federal government implemented regulations to reduce the frequency of fatigue-related crashes. Hours of Service (HOS) rules impose strict restrictions on how long drivers can work and requirements for breaks, among others. Recently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced proposed changes to HOS rules, enabling more flexibility for truck operators.
However, opponents of the proposed regulations argue that increased flexibility could lead to safety issues. If you were involved in a crash, it is important to work with a Miami truck accidents attorney when filing a claim for compensation. A summary HOS rules and modifications may also be helpful.
Overview of Hours of Service Regulations
Generally speaking, the HOS rules dictate how many hours a day and days per week truckers can be actively operating an 18-wheeler. All operators must comply with the regulations or they may lose their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) privileges. For example, truck drivers must:
- Avoid driving for more than 11 consecutive hours in any 14-hour period;
- Not drive for more than 14 hours total after getting behind the wheel;
- Take a break of 10 consecutive hours after the 11th consecutive or 14th total hour;
- Avoid driving a truck after being on duty for 60-70 hours in a seven to eight-day period; and,
- Rest for at least 30 minutes after driving for eight hours.
The Effect of Proposed Changes to HOS Rules
If the modifications become effective, truck operators may enjoy more flexibility while working. Proponents assert that the HOS rule changes will not compromise safety for other motorists on the road. Some key provisions of the changes include:
- Extending the 14-hour time limitation by two hours when operators are working in difficult driving conditions;
- Allowing drivers to split up the 10 hours off rule when they can rest in a sleeper berth; and
- Changing the time period and other factors regarding the mandatory break truckers must take after driving for eight hours.
Still, regardless of whether these proposed rules are enacted, they will not affect some of the other common causes behind truck accidents. Motorists are still at risk of life-threatening injuries when truck drivers speed, use their cell phones, fail to yield, or engage in other negligent conduct while behind the wheel.
Set Up a Free Consultation with a Miami Truck Accidents Lawyer
While this overview may be useful, it is important to understand that HOS and other trucking regulations change frequently. Our attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, PA stay current on proposed rules, so we are in the best position to fight for the rights of injured victims. For more information on your legal options, please contact our firm to schedule a no-cost case evaluation at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach.