Hours-of Service Rules for Commercial Truck Drivers Should Be Revised

A year ago, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a regulatory proposal that would revise hours-of-service (HOS) requirements for commercial truck drivers.  This week, Republicans on the House Oversight Committee held a hearing to attempt to block the FMCSA’s new truck safety rules.

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Congressman Bruce Braley of Iowa, who participated in the hearing, contacted me regarding his support of the new HOS rule:

As you may know, current regulations have prompted some serious safety concerns, as trucking companies can force drivers to drive up to 11 hours in a 21 hour period. There have also been two unanimous U.S. Court of Appeals decisions ruling that the current regulations violate federal law. I’m glad to see the recent proposed rule, which will improve road safety for millions of drivers on American highways.

I am currently representing a man who was hit by a semi truck when he was turning left on his motorcycle. After months of surgeries, his leg had to be amputated. The proposed rules are necessary to prevent serious accidents like this with commercial trucks.

Here is a list of some of the proposed changes:

  • The new HOS proposal would retain the “34-hour restart” provision allowing drivers to restart the clock on their weekly 60 or 70 hours by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty. However, the restart period would have to include two consecutive off-duty periods from midnight to 6:00 a.m. Drivers would be allowed to use this restart only once during a seven-day period.
  • Commercial truck drivers would be required to complete all driving within a 14-hour workday, and to complete all on-duty work-related activities within 13 hours to allow for at least a one hour break.
  • It is still open for comment whether drivers should be limited to 10 or 11 hours of daily driving time, although FMCSA currently favors a 10-hour limit.
  • Commercial truck drivers who violate this proposed rule would face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense. Trucking companies that allow their drivers to violate the proposal’s driving limits would face penalties of up to $11,000 for each offense.

Sadly, these proposed rules, while helpful, are not strong enough. Over-tired truck drivers are a menace and the number of such drivers is far greater than most people realize. As importantly, there are insufficient resources allocated for enforcement. Drivers know this and continue to violate the rules because they know the chance of getting caught is so low. All the rules – new or existing- will not fix the problem. Only vigorous enforcement can do that and without the political will and resources, it’s just not happening.

Attorney Fred Pritzker is a nationally recognized semi truck accident lawyer with over thirty years of experience representing individuals and families in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against transportation companies. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and has been given the highest rating by Martindale-Hubbell for an attorney, AV Preeminent. He represents accident victims nationwide. To contact Fred, call 1-888-377-8900 (toll free) or submit our free consultation form.

Fred Pritzker

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