Increased Truck Driver Hours, Stress, and Fatigue Threaten Highway Safety
At a time when our highways are already crowded and dangerous, last fall the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) instituted an increase in truck driver hours-of-service (HOS) rules, which means drivers will be on the roads longer and be more susceptible to stress and fatigue—increasing the potential for wrecks.
It’s a controversial move, and several organizations in the trucking and related industries have responded in a lawsuit that claims the changes will put driver safety at risk. The revised regulations went into effect on September 29, 2020.
What are the new regulations?
The most significant changes in FMCSA regulations will:
· Increase the short-haul exception to 150 air-miles and allow a 14-hour work shift
· Expand the driving window during adverse driving conditions by up to an additional two hours
· Require a 30-minute break after eight hours of driving time
These revisions will allow drivers extended hours and flexibility, which means more pay, while mandating breaks after eight-hour shifts. The FMCSA estimates that the changes will generate $274 million in cost savings for the U.S. economy.
What has been the response?
In response, a lawsuit was filed last September in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters as well as several highway safety groups—Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Parents Against Tired Truckers, and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways.
In a press release issued by the petitioners, these changes to HOS rules would “further exacerbate the already well-known threat of fatigue among commercial motor vehicle drivers by significantly weakening current HOS rules.”
They also believe that the FMCSA “contradicted its own prior conclusions on these very issues and failed to undertake a proper analysis of the impacts the rule will have on truck drivers and the motoring public.”
Amy Witherite, founder and lead lawyer at Witherite Law Group, said, “It seems most likely that an increase in tired and stressed truck drivers means an increased risk of truck wrecks.” She adds, “I don’t think this is responsible legislation in a time when there are already far too many truck wrecks.”
A ruling on the case is expected later this year.
The accident attorneys of Witherite Law Group help those who have been injured in a car or truck accident. Get legal help today by calling 1-800-CarWreck® or 1-800-TruckWreck or visiting www.WitheriteLaw.com. We’re available 24/7.