Waxahachie, TX (Law Firm Newswire) August 16, 2013 - Federal regulations issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have decreased the maximum average work hours for drivers of large trucks.
Large truck or semi-truck drivers can now only work an average of 70 hours per week, reduced from 82 weekly hours. Also new: drivers must take one 30-minute break within the first eight hours of their work shift, and must stick to the current rule of driving no more than 11 hours in one day, and work no more than 14 hours per day. The new rules took effect on July 1, 2013.
"Sleep deprivation on the road can be deadly," commented Waxahachie personal injury lawyer John Hale. "Research has shown that fatigued drivers make the same errors in judgment as those who drive drunk. While it is hoped that these new regulations decrease the likelihood of a big rig accident, anyone involved in a large truck accident should consult with a personal injury attorney."
The FMCSA stated that the new rules have been enacted so that truck drivers are adequately rested when on the nation's roads, in an attempt to improve traffic safety. They estimate that the new regulations may annually prevent as many as 1,400 incidents of large truck crashes and save as many as 19 lives. The FMCSA also estimates that as much as $280 million will be saved by reducing the number of crashes and some $470 million will be saved in health care costs for drivers.
Driver fatigue is a major factor in 18-wheeler accidents and crashes, according to the FMCSA. Regulations which seek to place a limit on the maximum number of hours a large truck driver spends behind the wheel on a daily and weekly basis may reduce the number of accidents caused by tired or sleepy drivers. Overnight driving is a particular risk factor for accidents, as sleep deprivation and fatigue have been shown to slow driver response time and decision-making abilities.
But not everyone is convinced the new regulations will be followed. According to the Wall Street Journal's article, "Truckers Are Losing Sleep Over 70-Hour Work Limit,” drivers may be pressured by their companies to bend the rules or underreport the amount of time they are on the road.
The FCMA is in charge of enforcing the new driving rules; fines run as high as $11,000 per offense for companies that allow drivers to exceed the limits by three or more hours. Drivers may also face penalties of as much as $2,750 for each offense.
The Hale Law Firm
100 Executive Court, Suite 3
Waxahachie, TX 75165