On December 29, 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding commercial truck driver hours of service. The stated purpose of the new proposed Rule is “[t]o promote safety and to protect driver health” as well as “reduce safety and health risks associated with long hours.” The proposed rule would make seven changes from current requirements, which are designed to promote rested drivers and help insure fatigued drivers are not behind the wheel of commercial vehicles.
As our lawyers have learned over the years in handling truck litigation, fatigue for truck drivers is a very serious problem. In the Driver Fatigue and Alertness Study, it was found that fatigue leads to:
There is little dispute that these problems have the potential to become deadly behind the wheel of a tractor trailer truck. Thus, it was no surprise that researchers found that driving while drowsy increased an individual’s crash risk by four to six times (Klauer, et al., 2006).
Our firm has handled a large number of cases where driver fatigue clearly contributed to the cause of a motor vehicle crash. Unfortunately, many trucking companies do not have the procedural safeguards in place to reduce the likelihood of driver fatigue and prevent violations of the Federal on-duty hour regulations. A recent case revealed that a trucking company had in excess of one hundred fatigue related Federal regulation violations. It was only a matter of time before this corporate culture of law breaking resulted in someone getting seriously injured or killed.
Advocates for highway and public safety, including Public Citizen, support the new rules. But Public Citizen says the rules need to be taken further in order to promote safer roads. But at least the new rules are a step in the right direction. Our firm will continue to push for safer roadways by holding trucking companies accountable for violating laws designed to keep fatigued drivers off the roadway. If you have any further questions relating to this matter, contact Chris Glover, a lawyer in our Personal Injury Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Chris.Glover@beasleyallen.com.
Source: Public Citizen
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