Federal agency implements new truck driving rules to save lives

Accidents involving large commercial vehicles—especially semi-trucks—are some of the most devastating. The injuries resulting from a semi-truck or tractor trailer accident tend to be more severe, sometimes even fatal. Many of these accidents are caused by truck driver fatigue. New regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration went into effect on July 1 with the intent on preventing the number deaths that occur each year from drowsy truck drivers.

Commercial drivers are typically paid one of two ways: by the load or by the mile. This means that the more time they spend behind the wheel, the more they will get paid. It is not uncommon for drivers to be on the road for 36 hours straight. According to the new regulations, drivers must have at least one 34-hour period of off-duty time per week to allow them to get much needed rest. They cannot drive more than 70 hours each week, and they are required to take a minimum 30 minute break during the first eight hours driving. The new regulations we developed after considerable amounts of research on the affect that fatigue has on a driver’s reflexes and alertness. It is estimated that the new rules will prevent approximately 19 deaths each year. Trucking companies are phasing in the use of electronic driving logs to make sure that their drivers are in compliance with the laws rather than manually recording driving hours in paper books.

Still, some truck drivers may try to circumvent the law. If you or a close relative have suffered a serious injury or a permanent disability as a result of a truck driver fatigue, you may want to speak with an attorney regarding your rights. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses or pain and suffering.

Source: Alabama Public Radio, “New Rules Puts Brakes On Truck Drivers' Schedules,”NPR Staff, June 30, 2013

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