Trucking Industry Fighting New Anti-Fatigue Regulations and Penalties


July 21, 2013

New trucking Hours of Service (HOS) rules took effect on July 1, 2013 which are designed to reduce truck driver fatigue and decrease the number of trucking accidents that frequently cause serious injuries and fatalities.  The American Trucking Association has sued the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to block enforcement of the new hours of service rules according to a USA Today article discussing the new regulations.  The objections of the trucking industry are easy to identify because the rules place a tougher cap on the number of on-duty hours and impose stiff fines for violations.

The new regulations reduce the maximum number of hours that drivers can operate a tractor-trailer to 70 hours in a calendar week from the previous cap of 82 hours.  The new trucking regulations also establish new rules for calculating the “restart period,” which imposes an obligation on commercial driver to rest after long distance trucking runs.  The new rules require that truck drivers stay away from their truck between the hours of one and five in the morning during consecutive nights.  Truck drivers also must rest for a minimum of thirty minutes after every eight hours of driving.

The FMCSA justified the changes based on projections of fewer trucking collisions that would lead to a decline in trucking accident deaths and injuries.  Federal trucking safety officials estimate that the new regulations will result in 1,400 fewer semi-truck collisions according to the report.  The article also indicated that the feds believe that the regulations will help reduce health-related truck driving risks, such as those caused by sleep apnea, diabetes, obesity and diabetes.

When the FMCSA enacted these regulations, they put significant enforcement teeth behind the new measure by including substantial fines for violation.  When a commercial truck driver violates the new HOS rules, the driver may be fined up to a maximum amount of $2,750.  Commercial carriers (trucking companies) that permit their truck drivers to violate the rules may be fined up to $11,000 per violation.

An example may make it more obvious how the new rules can compel drivers to observe longer rest periods.  A truck driver who finishes a run at two in the morning on a Thursday could not resume driving until 34 hours had elapsed, which would mean the driver has to stay off the road until Saturday at noon.  Under the new regulations, the driver could not resume operating a rig until Sunday at five in the morning because the driver must observe rest periods on two consecutive nights between the hours of one and five in the morning.

If you or someone close to you has been injured or you have lost a loved one to a fatigued truck driver, our experienced truck accident lawyers in Georgia are available to provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.  No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333).  You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Truck Accidents

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