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Proposed Changes to Trucking Safety Rules May Lead to More Accidents

Proposed Changes to Trucking Safety Rules May Lead to More Accidents

The rules would relax Hours of Service Regulations

Proposed Changes to Trucking Safety Rules May Lead to More Accidents

We rely on tractor trailers, or big rigs, to transport necessary goods across the country. Without these trucks — and the men and women who drive them — the shelves in our stores would be empty, our gas stations wouldn’t have fuel, and our hospitals wouldn’t have supplies. Yet we also recognize that tractor trailers present unique dangers due to their sheer size and the number of hours that their drivers spend on the road.

Truckers and trucking companies are subject to a complex web of state and federal regulations. In particular, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires truck drivers to comply with its Hours of Service Regulations. These rules mandate how long drivers can be on the road each day (a maximum of 11 hours, with a rest time of at least half an hour in that time), how many hours they can drive in a given week, and how much rest they must take in between driving shifts.

According to a California truck accident attorney, these rules are particularly important in an industry where drivers are generally paid by the number of miles that they drive rather than by the time that they spend driving. As a result of this pay system, many drivers will push themselves to drive longer and further — skimping on sleep in order to drive as many miles as they can in a given day. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that drowsy driving is responsible for an estimated 83,000 crashes each year, including an 886 fatal crashes and 37,000 accidents that caused injury.

Yet despite these dangers, the FMCSA is considering relaxing the Hours of Service Regulations to allow exceptions for the mandatory half hour rest break, let truckers split up their sleep time, and otherwise ease the standards. FMCSA is expected to issue a notice of proposed rule making, which will open up a two month comment period on these proposed changes. After that, the Trump administration can move forward with the new rules.

While many truck drivers and trucking companies are in support of these new regulations, as it would give them flexibility, safety advocates worry that it would increase the number of drowsy truck drivers on the road. According to the President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, deadly truck crashes have increased 40% since 2009.

As a California truck accident attorney can explain, when a tractor trailer or a big rig is involved in an accident, the potential for damage is much greater given that these trucks — and their loads — can weigh tens of thousands of pounds. Given the increased danger associated with drowsy driving, loosening the regulations that require truck drivers to be well-rested may lead to more accidents — including ones that cause serious or fatal injuries.

PLBSH represents clients who have been injured in a range of accidents. If you have been hurt in an accident, we are here for you. Contact us today at (800) 435-7542 or info@plbsh.com to learn more or to schedule a consultation with a California truck accident attorney.

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