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Trucking Companies Seek to Relax Standards Intended to Reduce Driver Fatigue

1400 truck collisionsIn June 2014, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee voted to suspend the trucker’s restart rule by a vote of 21 to 9, which still requires a final vote on the Senate floor. The truck driver regulations were designed to reduce truck driver fatigue and decrease the number of catastrophic commercial truck accidents involving injuries and fatalities.

The Collins Amendment

Specifically, the Collins Amendment (initiated by Sen. Susan Collins) involves a one-year suspension on the prevision of an automatic 34-hour reset, or mandated time off for all truck drivers. It was designed to be used once by truckers driving 60 to 70 hours weekly. In addition to the 34-hour reset time, the driver is required to take two consecutive rest periods from 1 AM to 5 AM.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) proposed an amendment to the restart rule claiming that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) failed in their capacity to analyze the benefits and implications involving the restart rule. As a result, more semi-truck trailers, 18-wheelers, cargo vans and commercial vehicles are crowding the roadways during the busiest times of travel throughout the day.

The rules were initially proposed in 2010. Since then, the ATA (American Trucking Association) has maintained that the restart rules were not based on scientific evidence and when implemented in 2013, both the economy and the trucking industry experienced a significant negative impact.

The Hours of Service Rule

The implemented hours of service regulation is designed specifically to reduce fatigue and truck drivers maintaining challenging schedules. When the FMCSA announced the rule in December 2011, truck companies were required to adopt the new regulations within 18 months. The rules are designed to provide adequate rest to busy truck operators – those that currently drive more than 70 hours every week. At the time, the rules were thought to only affect drivers with extreme schedules, where nearly 90 percent of the total trucking workforce would experience no change.

Chronic truck driver fatigue is considered to be a leading cause of crashes due to working long hours. It is thought that many truckers develop significant chronic health conditions caused by fatigue. The FMCSA estimates the newly implemented safety regulations can save over 500 injuries and 19 lives every year, by avoiding more than 1400 truck collisions. The rules specifically include:

  • Limitation of the maximum amount of hours truckers can drive each week (up to 70 hours), down from an 82 hour maximum
  • Provides truckers reaching the 70 hour driving maximum a way to return to work after resting a minimum of 34 consecutive hours in addition to two nights of sleep from 1 AM to 5 AM
  • A requirement for truckers to take 30 minute breaks each shift within the first eight hours

Any trucking company or trucker committing egregious violations of the reset rule can face a maximum penalty for every offense.

Highway Safety Advocates Concerned About Impact Of Proposed Changes

The founder of Parents against Tired Truckers Daphne Izer believes the Senators are being pressured by the trucking industry to take a second look at the reset rule. Other advocates of highway safety believe that returning to previous driving standards could increase the potential of commercial truck accidents with fatalities.

Truck Driving Accidents Involving Fatigue & Other Dangerous Habits

Unfortunately, the previous truck driving regulations were insufficient to minimize truck driver fatigue. The massive weight and size of commercial trucks combined with a tired trucker on Chicago roads increases the potential of a catastrophic accident with serious injuries and deaths. Data from the Department of Transportation (DOT) indicates that truck collisions account for approximately one out of every 10 fatal traffic accidents in Illinois. The most common truck accidents involve:

  • A distracted trucker
  • And intoxicated truck driver
  • Rear end collision
  • Truck rollover
  • Sleep-deprived truck drivers
  • Unsafe or overloaded trucks

Taking Legal Action After An Accident With A Truck

Anytime a victim has been injured or has died as a result of a truck accident caused by the driver’s negligence, it is essential to take legal action. It is recommended to hire a reputable personal injury attorney that specializes in truck accident cases. This is because proving responsibility in a truck collision accident can be complex. A seasoned attorney understands comprehensive Illinois tort law and can file a claim or lawsuit against the trucking company and driver to prove negligence caused by fatigue.

The Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can provide legal counsel to ensure every victim receives fair compensation for their injuries as well as financial loss, emotional anguish, pain and suffering. Call a Chicago Truck Accident Lawyer at (888) 424-5757. They can litigate the case to recoup lost income, property damage and diminished earning capacity.