A recent press released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that a series of long-awaited safety guidelines would be going into effect on July 1, 2013. The regulations, which were first proposed 18 months ago, are designed to reduce the chance of exhausted truck drivers getting into deadly accidents.
The regulations say that trucker drivers are limited to 70-hour workweeks. Though this might sound like an awfully long time to be behind the wheel, it’s actually less than the current rules which allowed truckers to work for more than 80 hours each week. Safety advocates believe a lower workweek limit will help reduce the possibility of overly tired truckers whose inattention frequently proves deadly.
The new rules also contain a requirement that truck drivers take a mandatory 30-minute break at some point during the first eight hours behind the wheel. Though the FMCSA proposed various changes, some things will remain the same. For instance, truckers will still have the same 11-hour daily driving limit and 14-hour daily work limit.
Safety advocates say the changes to hours-of-service rules were designed to reduce the thousands of deaths each year linked to tired truck drivers. Study after study has shown that tired commercial vehicle operators are responsible for an alarming number of accidents. In fact, one survey conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board found that as many as 30 percent of all accidents involving tractor-trailers were related to driver fatigue.
Though all drivers, even those in passenger vehicles, can get tired from time to time, the problem is especially prevalent (and dangerous) among commercial drivers. This is because the way the industry works financially incentivizes truckers to keep driving despite being exhausted. By paying drivers for making on time deliveries and basing salaries on the number of miles driven, truckers have a clear reason to push through being tired and keep driving. It’s because of this that it is so important for government regulators to construct strict limits on driving times and check this natural urge for truckers to make as much money as possible.
The new FMCSA rules were also written with enough teeth to ensure that trucking companies and truckers follow the limits. The measure says that any trucking company that has drivers go over the 70-hour limit can be fined $11,000 per incident. Drivers can also be personally held responsible for going over the limit and can be fined $2,750 for each offense.
If you have been injured in a Mississippi car, motorcycle or tractor-trailer accident and think you may have a personal injury claim, please contact the Mississippi personal injury lawyers at Kilpatrick & Philley at (601) 856-7800.
Source: “New Hours of Service Enforcement Begins Today,” published at TruckingInfo.com.
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