Exhaustion can be deadly, especially when an 80,000 pound tractor trailer is involved. Recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that crashes attributed to distractions killed 3,092 people last year. The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has revised the hours-of-service for commercial truck drivers, reducing the maximum number of hours of weekly driving time by 12 hours.
Previously, truck drivers could work up to 82 hours within a seven-day period. The new rule limits a driver's working week to 70 hours. Though the final rule retains the current 11-hour daily driving limit, truck drivers cannot drive for more than eight hours without taking a break of at least 30 minutes.
It's no secret that truckers often drive when they are tired. The Advocates for Highway and Auto Saftey point to a 2005 survey which shows that 65% of truckers reported they sometimes or often felt drowsy while driving. Worse still, nearly 48% said they had actually fallen asleep while driving during the previous year. Putting weary drivers behind the wheels of 40-ton rigs chugging down interstates at 70 or 80mph is a formula for tragedy on a grand scale.
The recently announced FMCSA regulations also require truck drivers who maximize their weekly work hours to take at least two nights of rest between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. This new requirement is part of the "34-hour restart" provision that allows drivers to restart the clock on their work week by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off work and out of the cab.
Any carriers that break this new limit could be fined up to $11,000 per offense. Drivers themselves face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each violation.
The new rule, based on the latest research in driver fatigue, was established to make sure truck drivers get enough rest to operate safely on the road. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said: "Trucking is a difficult job, and a big rig can be deadly when a driver is tired and overworked. This will help prevent fatigue-related truck crashes and save lives."
For more information about truck accidents or to speak with a skilled Asheville attorney about your potential claim, contact the truck accident lawyers at Davis Law Group today at (866) 397-2897.
Source: "Shift on trucker safety rules," by Ben Wolfgang, published at WashingtonTimes.com.
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