Congress Suspends Truck Driver Hours of Service Rules

The trucking industry has won a victory in an ongoing battle between it and safety officials who had wanted to keep truck driver hours of service more limited.

Congress in December agreed to temporarily stop enforcing rules that had been established in 2013 related to those truck driver hours of service. But the U.S. transportation secretary and others have voiced concern that this rollback to the previous regulations will mean more truck drivers will be behind the wheel when they have not rested properly. truck driver hours of service

Hours of Service

In 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented truck driver hours of service regulations limiting the average work week for drivers to 70 hours. The measure was intended to ensure drivers would get adequate rest. The regulations included at least 34 hours off between shifts and two consecutive nights between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Officials have said that the two nights were intended to ensure drivers would get adequate sleep.

The organization said that more than 85 percent of the truck-driving workforce would not be affected by the changes. FMCSA said that driver fatigue had been connected to a high risk of crashes as well as serious health conditions in drivers.

Industry Rallies Congress for Changes

The bill that Congress recently passed and that President Barack Obama has signed into law was attached at the last minute to the nation’s $1.1 trillion spending bill designed to prevent a government shutdown. It puts a stay on enforcing the two key elements of the 2013 truck driver hours of service regulations. Drivers will not have to be regulated to the 34-hour, two-night rest period. They also will no longer be limited to one restart time per week.

The suspension does not change the regulation itself, but only the enforcement on the regulations. The stay will last at least until Sept. 30, 2015. During the time the suspension is in place, Congress has ordered that the Department of Transportation begin studying whether the 2013 truck driver hours of service regulation provided a “greater net benefit for the operational, safety, health and fatigue impacts.”

Fatigued Truck Drivers in the News

Truck driver hours of service were thrust into the limelight last year when actor Tracy Morgan was critically injured and another passenger in the van in which they were riding were killed when the van was struck by a semi truck on the New Jersey Turnpike. The truck driver had not slept for more than 24 hours.

Statistics have shown that of the more than 30,000 people who die annually because of drowsy driving, one in seven of the accidents are caused by tired drivers of large trucks. Transportation experts have said they are concerned that the suspension of the truck driver hours of service could lead to even more deaths on U.S. highways.

Have You Been Hurt in an Accident That Involved a Tired Semi Truck Driver?

If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in an accident that involved a semi truck, American Injury Attorney Group can help you. For no out-of-pocket costs, we can help you evaluate your case so that you can determine if you have a claim. If you do, one of American Injury Attorney Group’s affiliated attorneys can file a lawsuit on your behalf. You may be eligible to receive a monetary award.

Fatal Semi Truck Accident Statistics High

Two recent fatal semi truck accidents have again focused attention on the safety of tractor-trailers on today’s roadways. One, which occurred in Wisconsin, took the life of a 49-year old man, while the second left a 61-year old Illinois truck driver dead.

Wisconsin Crash

The Wisconsin fatal semi truck accident occurred when a tractor-trailer, driven by 55-year old Ronald Jay Ebert, ran a stop sign at the intersection of Highway 48 and Highway E in McKinley Township, according to reports from KSTP.Com, St. Paul, Minn. He struck a pickup driven by 75-year old Allan Seierstad of Cumberland. A passenger in the truck, 49-year old Ricky Gauthier, died in the crash. Seierstad suffered significant injuries. According to the truck driver, the brakes failed on his truck, which is why he did not stop at the intersection. Fatal Semi Truck Accident

Illinois Crash

It was the truck driver, 61-year old Michael Burtch, of Rockford, who died in the Illinois fatal semi truck accident when his tractor-trailer entered the path of an oncoming train on Alworth Road in Winnebago County, according to reports from in Rockford, Ill.  The accident ripped open the tractor-trailer, spilling piles of corn, and the driver was pronounced dead at the scene. Indications were that the signals were working properly.

Fatal Semi Truck Accident Statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatal semi truck accidents lead to the death of almost 5,000 people each year and most of those who are killed are in passenger vehicles, not in the tractor-trailers. Severe injury is much more likely in a semi truck accident as well, leading to lost wages, medical bills and other costs for those who are injured in the accidents. Over the past two decades, truck accidents have increased by 20 percent and some believe the semi truck accident statistics indicate several factors, including companies who schedule deliveries and pick ups with schedules that require drivers to ignore safety regulations or who fail to properly maintain the trucks, which can lead to mechanical failure and accidents.

Was Someone You Know Killed in a Semi Truck Accident?

If a loved one has been killed in a semi truck accident, you may have a claim for a wrongful death lawsuit. Contact the American Injury Attorney Group today to learn about your rights. If we believe you have a case, the American Injury Attorney Group can refer you to one of our affiliated attorneys, who can file a lawsuit on your behalf. You may be eligible to receive a monetary compensation for your loss.