New Rules Seek to Put Driver Fatigue to Bed

Rules imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) cap the number of hours that truck drivers are allowed to drive and perform off-duty work. However, drivers on deadlines sometimes violate the rules and drive longer hours than are allowed or than they should. This creates a hazardous situation for all on the road.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), driver fatigue is a contributing factor to an estimated 20 to 40 percent of truck accidents. Further, the FMCSA estimates that 750 people were fatally wounded and approximately 20,000 more were injured in accidents with fatigued truck drivers in 2009.

Proposed Rule Changes

In its effort to reduce the number of fatigued truck drivers behind the wheel, the FMCSA recently proposed two new rules. Both rules are currently in the late stages of the rule-making process.

  • Electronic on-board recorders (EOB) - these recording devices are attached to 18-wheelers to track drivers' hours-of-service (HOS). EOBs would be used in conjunction with logbooks that drivers are already required to keep and serve to verify the information that drivers enter into their logbooks.
  • Limit consecutive hours driven - under current rules, truck drivers are allowed to drive up to 11 hours consecutively. The proposed rule would lower that number to 10 hours. In addition, the proposed rule would require drivers to spend two overnight periods (12 a.m. to 6 a.m.) at home before the number of hours they are allowed to drive in a week resets (drivers can work 60 hours in a 7-day period and 70 hours in an 8-day period).

Driving tired is a danger to everyone, especially when the fatigued driver is behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a fatigued truck driver, speak to an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can help you seek compensation for medical bills and rehabilitation costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.