Federal Court Makes Way for Safer Roads

truck driver talking into truck radio

New regulations aimed at reducing trucker fatigue are finally going into effect after a federal appeals court has upheld them.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ended a 14-year legal fight between the industry and consumers, ruling that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration should mostly administer rules as it sees fit. For now, that means tougher regulations meant to go into effect in July will remain in place.

How the Rules Are Changing

A few major rules regarding the length of time truckers can be behind the wheel have been changed. Trucking companies had 18 months to adopt the changes after they were announced by the FMCSA in December 2011. They include:

  • Reducing the maximum average work week from 82 hours to 70
  • Requiring a 34-hour rest period between weeks, including two consecutive nights where the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. time period are off
  • Requiring truck drivers to take a 30-minute break during the first 8 hours of each shift
  • The 11-hour daily driving limit and the 14-hour work day remain unchanged

Why the Rules Matter

The FMCSA says long work hours for many days can lead to chronic fatigue, a high risk of crashes and serious chronic health conditions in drivers, all of which can endanger road conditions. Rules that limit how long truck drivers can spend on the road ensure they get the rest they need, leading to safer highways.

According to the FMCSA, the new regulations will save 19 lives, as well as prevent 1,400 crashes and 560 injuries each year.

The Fight Behind the Rules

While the FMCSA says the rules are common sense, advocates of the truck driving industry disagree. The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association argued that a lack of basic training standards for new drivers is the leading safety problem.

In contrast, several public interest groups said the rules were not stringent enough to protect public safety.

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The FMCSA creates rules to protect your safety from the dangers of fatigued truck drivers.

Whether you drive a commercial vehicle with four axles or commute on your bicycle, following these rules and any other safety practices can help everyone avoid the terror associated with being in an accident.

The Truck Accident Attorneys are among the nation’s leaders in helping you get justice when you’ve been in an accident with a truck driver. If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact us today to learn how we can help.

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