FMCSA Reinforcing Safe Trucking Practices With New Rules

The trucking industry is known for pushing drivers to spend long hours on the road, sometimes without enough rest between shifts. While part of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) duties are to implement and enforce federal trucking regulations, the agency tends to drag its feet when it is time to review and revise new rules. Recently, though, the FMCSA did decide to issue new hours-of-service regulations to help truck drivers reduce motor vehicle accidents and improve safety records while on the road.

Safety Track Record

The FMCSA recently published a report that analyzed commercial crash data from 2009. According to the results, accidents involving trucks were down 31 percent from 2007. Per 100 million vehicle miles, the counts for how many fatal and serious injury crashes involved large trucks also decreased 26 percent in both categories. Even though these numbers look better for truckers, 10 percent of people, or about 3,400, were still killed in truck accidents during this two-year period, 61 percent of which involved large tractor-semi trailer trucks.

Hours-of-Service Changes

The current FMCSA hours-of-service standard for truckers is 11 consecutive hours daily with a rest period of 34 hours between long workweeks. The proposed regulation seeks to limit the risk of truckers driving fatigued. When implemented, the new hours-of-service rule will be 10 hours daily with an option to resume truck operating after 34 hours. This delay includes two 6:00 a.m. to midnight spans and may only be exercised once a week. The new FMCSA regulations were set to go live in October, but were put on hold until further notice.

Need for Reinforcement

According to Teamsters data, the U.S. spent around $20 million on truck-related crashes in 2009. Teamsters also indicated that trucker fatigue was to blame in many accidents that involved large trucks. The range of crashes where fatigue was a major factor ranges from 30 to 40 percent by the account of multiple sources, but may be as low as 5.5 percent by FMCSA reports. The new hours-of-service regulations should reduce costs and crashes, as well as protect truck drivers and other motorists, passengers, pedestrians and bicyclists.

Help to Reduce Accidents

The longer truck drivers operate their vehicles, the higher the risk they are driving fatigued and may cause harm to themselves or others. Truckers may choose to ignore both current and future hours-of-service regulations, which could endanger everyone they meet while driving. While the FMCSA works toward instituting stricter hours-or-service rules in the name of furthering safer trucking practices, there is still the issue of enforcing adherence to these regulations. It may be some time before other drivers see any benefit to their creation in the form of reduced truck accidents.

If you or your loved one was recently in a crash involving a commercial vehicle or truck, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Speak to a local attorney knowledgeable in personal injury matters to discuss your case and provide you with information regarding your rights and options.