Congress Suspends Enforcement of New Trucking Industry Hours of Service Rules
Tractor-trailers collisions claim the lives of approximately 4,000 people annually with another 100,000 people suffering injury. The number of trucking accident deaths has been trending upward despite an overall decline in total motor vehicle accident fatalities over the last few years. Our Atlanta trucking accident lawyers at Montlick and Associates recognize that driver fatigue is one of the most significant causes of serious big-rig crashes. Because of the risk of fatigue-related trucking collisions, the trucking industry must comply with hours of service rules that impose mandatory limits on driving times and require the observation of break periods. Despite the importance of keeping fatigued truckers off our highways, Congress recently suspended stricter HOS regulations.
The Congressional enactment which was a rider on the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 suspended enforcement of modified HOS rules which had a compliance date of July 1, 2013. Under the revised rules, a driver who works seventy hours over eight days would be required to observe a mandatory rest period of 34 hours. Further, this mandatory rest period must include at least two consecutive night periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. The new rules also limit the maximum average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours, a decrease from the previous maximum of 82 hours, and require drivers to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift. The recent Congressional action has suspended enforcement of the new HOS rules until October 1, 2015. The amendment also authorized a study into the potential benefits of the revised rules.
The revised HOS rules were proposed against the background of the Wal-Mart trucking accident that caused serious injury to comedian Tracy Morgan. Morgan was riding in a limousine when the vehicle he was traveling in was struck by a tractor-trailer. According to the law enforcement investigation, the driver of the Wal-Mart truck had been awake 24 consecutive hours when the crash occurred. The truck driver also was near the end of a shift lasting 14 consecutive hours behind the wheel.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx wrote a letter to Congress prior to passage of the amendment supporting the revised HOS rules:
"The evidence clearly shows that truck drivers are better rested and more alert after two nights of sleep rather than one night, and that unending 80-hour work weeks lead to driver fatigue and compromise highway safety."
Despite Foxx's attempt to urge Congress to permit continued enforcement of the revised HOS rules, Congress voted to suspend their enforcement.
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If you or someone close to you is injured in a trucking accident, contact our experienced Atlanta tractor-trailer accident lawyers for a free consultation to discuss your rights to money damages, the steps that must be taken to protect those rights, and to learn how we can help. Our attorneys at Montlick and Associates have been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and in the Southeast for over thirty years, 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.