FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2013-08-16
Anyone who has driven on an interstate highway has likely seen the aftermath of a truck accident. Due to the size of 18-wheelers and other large trucks, cars generally don’t stand a chance during a collision. Such accidents are responsible for around 3,000 fatal car accidents per year, according to the Department of Transportation.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is tasked with regulating the trucking industry across the nation. Over the past several years, one of the agency’s priorities has been to minimize the number of truck accidents. As a result, the agency has passed many regulations designed to improve truck safety on the roads.
Many of such regulations went into effect recently. As truck driver fatigue is a leading cause of truck accidents nationwide, these regulations target how long a truck driver is allowed to be behind the wheel. Under the new regulations, truck drivers may only work an average of 70 hours per week, a 12-hour decrease from the old rules. In addition, the rules require truck drivers to take a 30-minute rest period for every eight hours behind the wheel. Overall, drivers may drive no more than 11 hours per day or work longer than 14 hours a day, once breaks, delays and loading time have been factored in.
Additionally, the new regulations also dictate when drivers must rest once they reach their 70-hour per week maximum. Once a driver has worked his or her maximum, he or she must rest for 34 consecutive hours, including at least two nights between 1-5 a.m. Research has shown that the human body consistently needs sleep the most between these hours.
Unsurprisingly, the new rules have not been popular with trucking companies. Companies claim that the work limits imposed by the new rules would reduce the availability of drivers, necessitating that more drivers be on the road at a time to meet shipping deadlines. Companies claim that more trucks equals a greater risk of truck accidents.
The FMCSA, on the other hand, claims that the new rules address the problem of driver fatigue, which results in a high likelihood of truck accidents. According to the agency’s statistics, the new rules will prevent about 1,400 crashes and 560 injuries each year.
Consult an attorney
If you or a loved one have been involved in a truck accident, it is important to find out whether negligence was to blame, as it can affect your right to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and other expenses. You may receive an offer from an insurance company, but would not be well advised to accept it until you know the extent of your injuries. An experienced personal injury attorney can investigate the causes of the accident and ensure that you receive the compensation due to you under the law.