As the recent pandemic loosens its grip on the world, truck drivers in the United States are working hard to keep up with the increasing demands for consumer goods and products. While their role is key to maintaining our supply chain, they must also travel on our roads safely. While we need our toilet paper and other essential goods to arrive timely, at what cost?
In order to protect public safety, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has set forth certain Hours of Service (HOS) regulations for the trucking community. With the FMCSA considering lowering the minimum age for commercial truck drivers, and with driver fatigue on the rise, a debate is raging over whether now is the time to relax the HOS rules. The rules setting the minimum standards for truck drivers and commercial carriers are intended to reduce incidences of truck accidents in South Carolina and across our 50 states.
Proposed changes to the hours-of-service rules for truck safety include four key revisions that affect the number of hours a driver can be on the road, the number of breaks a driver should have, and emphasizes the importance of driver focus and alertness while on the road.
Current Hours-of-Service Parameters
To foster safe roads and highways, current Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations place certain limits on property-carrying commercial truck drivers. The restrictions on long- and short-haul truck drivers include:
- Hourly and daily driving limits
- Mandatory driving breaks
- Sleeper berth provision
- Adverse driving conditions exceptions
- Short-haul range exceptions
Drivers who do not comply with current regulations can face occupational and legal consequences that place their livelihood, commercial driver’s license (CDL), and the health and safety of others in jeopardy.
Proposed Changes to Current Regulations
In June 2020, FMCSA regulators proposed four changes to the hours-of-service mandates for truck drivers. They include:
- Short-Haul Exception: This change increases the number of hours a driver can be on the road to 14.
- Adverse Driving Conditions Exception: Drivers may now have an additional two hours of driving time due to adverse weather conditions.
- 30-Minute Break Requirement: This change will require a 30-minute break after eight hours of driving, not 8 hours on duty. It also permits drivers to use any time on the job but not driving as a break.
- The Split Sleeper Berth Provision: This change means drivers can spend seven berth hours sleeping with a minimum of two hours in or out of their berth off-duty as long as the combined time meets the 10-hour off-duty requirement.
On September 29, 2020, these changes went into effect and eased restrictions on truck drivers, which have safety repercussions for all drivers. Advocates against the HOS changes believe that these changes create further loopholes for companies to push drivers to work longer hours with adequate rest breaks, leading to exhaustion and fatigue. Our primary concerns are these lighter restrictions have already shown increased driver fatigue and increased pressure on them to perform. Think about it.
How the Changes Jeopardize Truck Safety
Because driver fatigue is caused by physical and mental exhaustion, sufficient rest periods are vital to truck safety. FMCSA’s administrators caution drivers to get sufficient sleep, eat healthily, nap regularly, and avoid medications that induce drowsiness. We advise truck drivers to recognize their limitations, know when their minds and bodies signal tiredness, and avoid using keep-alert tricks. Driver fatigue occurs due to many factors, including:
- Not enough sleep
- Prolonged work hours
- Driver exertion
- Extracurricular activities
Well-rested drivers help keep roads and highways safe. We foresee these changes having more drivers on the road who do not have enough sleep to safely operate their cargo-laden vehicles. Drivers could be pressed to work up to 77 hours per week under the new rules.
For a free legal consultation, call 864-740-8653
Know What to Do If You Are Involved in a Fatigue-Related Truck Accident
Our South Carolina truck accident team at Hammack Law Firm is warm, supportive, and treats our clients like friends and family. We bring a comforting, personalized touch to an otherwise traumatic situation. When we represent truck accident victims, our team is different
- We give your case the time and attention it deserves
- We are available to you 7 days a week, and you will have my personal mobile phone number
- Our experience, diligence, and reputation
- We will take your case to trial without hesitation, if necessary
In addition to assisting injured clients, we also fight for increased safety measures, such as the removal of the dangerous concrete chute design on I-85, justice for truck accident victims, and peace of mind for family members who lost a loved one in a collision.
Understand Your Recoverable Damages
If a driver who did not adhere to the hours-of-service regulations caused a collision and you or a loved one were injured, you could be entitled to compensation. We help you recover:
- Current and future medical bills
- Current and future lost wages
- Property damage or destruction
- Physical impairment or disfigurement
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional anguish
South Carolina limits the time you have to file a lawsuit to recover these damages. Evidence also disappears quickly unless immediately preserved, such as scene and roadway markings, nearby business videos, dash cam video, and engine download data. Because gathering this critical evidence is a key part of your case, do not wait to put Hammack Law Firm to work proving your 18-wheeler accident and fighting for compensation.
Financial Compensation for Previous Clients
Our team passionately advocates for beneficial trucking and insurance company public safety policy. We fight hard toward our threefold mission of building relationships with our clients, making South Carolina’s roads safe, and holding at-fault parties accountable for the financial compensation of every single client we represent. Previous motor vehicle accident settlements include:
- $4,400,000 for a family that was severely injured by a driver attempting a U-turn
- $1,600,000 for a couple who was injured by a tractor-trailer
- $350,000 for a client who was broke down on the Interstate and was killed by a truck driver in a rear-end collision
Clients who refer our team to other injury victims say, “I went to 3 other law firms first and they all told me my case was not worth pursuing…Paul got me a lot more than I expected! Everyone there is so helpful & friendly… Thank you soooo much for everything.” – Bob.
Get Your Free Case Consultation with Hammack Law Firm
Find out what proposed changes to the hours-of-service rules could mean for truck safety and injured parties. If you were involved in a truck accident, contact one of our truck accident team members at Hammack Law Firm by calling (864) 326-3333 today.