Efforts to Reduce Fatigue-Related Trucking Crashes

The Chicago Truck Collision Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. take note of recent changes to trucking regulations under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act, aimed at reducing excessively long work hours that have contributed to fatigue-related truck crashes. Studies have shown that impaired driving, including driver fatigue, is a factor is more than 12% of all accidents involving trucks.

Federal regulations which set forth limitations on service hours for certain truck drivers have been in place for decades. However, several studies have revealed how reexamining per-week driving limitations could potentially aide in the reduction of fatigue-related accidents. Prompted largely as a result of investigative research studies, the Federal government implemented significant changes to its regulations concerning Hours-of-Service in 2012, with compliance of the Final Rules required by July 1, 2013.

In order to conceptualize the impact of the new regulations, it is helpful to understand a typical truck driver’s work week. For most individuals, a typical work week is measured based upon a 40-hour work week. Truck drivers, however, generally operate based upon a work week that is double this amount.

Under the old rule, truck drivers could potentially work up to 82 hours in one work week period. Under the new rule, the maximum permissible hours per work week is limited to 70 hours. However, it is important to note that 70-hour work week limitation is the maximum allowable, and under the new regulations, there are additional rules that make it much more difficult for a truck driver that wishes to work a 70-hour week. Most notable, are the new regulations that limit restarts to one ‘restart’ per every 168-hour period.

As stated by the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in response to the inquiry ‘What is wrong with taking two 34-hour restarts in a week?’:

Multiple restarts in each week would not generally be a problem because frequent 34-hour-long off-duty periods would leave little time in a given week to build up excessive duty hours. If, however, restarts are taken every 6 days, a problem does arise: under existing rules, alternating 14 hours on-duty and 10 hours off, a driver would reach 70 hours in less than 5 full days. After a 34-hour break, the driver could then begin this same cycle again, totaling 70 hours on-duty every 6 calendar days, for an average of almost 82 hours per calendar week. Limiting restarts to one every 168 hours prevents this excessive buildup of on-duty hours, while still allowing drivers to use the restart provision to their advantage and avoiding the complexity of special provisions for more frequent restarts

In addition to the limitation to one restart per 168 hour period, there are also other limitations set forth by the new regulations. In order to be eligible for the one permissible restart, the truck driver must have two off-duty rest periods between the hours 1 am and 5 am. While this highly specific time period may seem unusual, the reason for this requirement is highly meaningful. As explained in one study citied within the final rule:

“Sleep at that time is longer, less prone to interruptions, deeper, and more restorative.”

This study, however, is one amongst several, each of which provide further evidence in support of the reformative measures necessary to aide in the reduction of truck crashes throughout the nation. As Trucking Collision Attorneys, Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. supports the benefits that these new regulations offers to the residents of our community in reducing accidents. As legal representatives of the injured and victims of the deceased, we have witnessed the devastating effects caused by truck accidents. Our Chicago attorneys have recognized the need for policy reform for years, and look forward to the anticipated benefits that these newly implemented regulatory measures will offer the members of our community.

If you or a loved one suffered injury or fatality as a result of a Trucking Collision, contact the Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. to schedule your FREE personal injury consultation, at 773-516-4100, or through our website at www.zneimerlaw.com.

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