Are Current Trucking Regulations Strict Enough?

Truck driver fatigue is a major cause of trucking accidents and, in an effort to reduce the amount of fatigued truckers on the road, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enacted new regulations which took full effect last summer. Among other limitations, the truckers and trucking companies are required to comply with the following requirements:

  • Maximum average work week for truck drivers is 70 hours.
  • After the maximum 70 hours of driving per week is reached, truck drivers may resume driving only after they rest for 34 consecutive hours, including at least two nights from 1- 5 a.m.
  • Mandatory 30-minute breaks during the first eight hours of a shift.

Although data released earlier this year supports the efficacy of the new hours-of-service regulations, catastrophic and fatal trucking accidents – like the one that took the life of comedian James McNair and seriously injured actor/comedian Tracy Morgan in last month – are causing many to wonder whether the hours-of-service regulations need to be even stricter since the trucker involved in that accident had not slept in 24 hours.

In fact, some members of Congress are calling for new regulations aimed at keeping fatigued truckers off the road. For instance, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has proposed an amendment to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill that calls for the suspension of changes made last year to the two-night rest requirement and the once-a-week limitation on the 34-hour restart provision. Collins has asked that the FMSCA study the changes to determine if the restart rule helps to save lives or causes more truck traffic during peak driving hours.

Collins’ amendment would suspend the law that lets truckers use the 34-hour rest period once a week, giving them the opportunity to use the 34-hour break more than once a week. According to an article in the News Star, Louisiana Motor Transportation Association executive director Cathy Gautreaux said the restrictions limiting drivers to one 34-hour restart per week and requiring two periods of rest between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. have created unintended consequences.

“These restrictions push more trucks onto the road during daytime hours when crash risk is at its highest, a consequence FMCSA admits in congressional testimony it did not consider. The result is added risk, congestion, emissions, delays and cost to our nation’s economy,” Gautreaux said. “Retaining Sen. Collins’ Hours of Service Restart Study language will reduce the risks and other harm associated with the newly imposed restart restrictions while the rule’s benefits and true safety impacts are being properly evaluated.”

Contact a Trucking Accident Lawyer

The Chicago trucking accident attorneys at Cogan & Power, P.C. strongly support regulations and laws that hold negligent truckers and trucking companies responsible for the accidents, injuries, and deaths that they cause. Our unique legal team, which includes a nationally recognized member of the prestigious Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America, is committed to obtaining just compensation for trucking accident victims and their families. We take great pride in our record of successful verdicts and settlements, including a recent $13 million verdict in a trucking accident case.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident or would like more information about hours-of-service regulations, please contact us at (312) 477-2500 to schedule a free consultation with one of our dedicated trucking accident attorneys.