When you drive your vehicle around large commercial trucks on the highway, you probably do not put much thought into the regulations involved in the trucking industry. One of the most important jobs of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is ensuring that truck drivers and truck companies follow the established hours of service (HOS) requirements in order to prevent drivers from operating while fatigued. However, the HOS requirements may be changing, and this could impact safety on the roadway.
What changes are coming to trucking hours of service?
When the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic began to set in, the US government suspended the hours of service regulations for truck drivers for the first time since the regulations were enacted decades ago. This was done in an effort to ensure that the flow of vital goods such as food and medical supplies would continue in the United States. Due to the ongoing pandemic and other major upheavals in the US, major permanent rule changes concerning the hours of service requirements have largely gone unnoticed.
Set to likely take effect later this year, the following changes have been made to the HOS requirements:
- On-duty limitations for short-haul operations will increase from 12 to 14 hours from 100 air-miles to 150 air-miles.
- Drivers will now be able to extend the operating window by two hours if they encounter adverse driving conditions.
- The 30-minute break provision has been modified to require the break after 8 hours of actual driving consecutive driving time as opposed to just on-duty time and allows for an on-duty/not-driving period to qualify as the break.
US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao says that these final rulesshow that her Department has listened to the calls from truck drivers. She says that putting more control in the hands of truck drivers regarding when they should and should not drive would increase safety.
How could this affect safety?
The HOS regulations are in place to ensure roadway safety, and the worry is that relaxing these standards in any way could increase the danger for those who drive around large trucks. According to the FMCSA, a fully loaded semi-truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds and reach up to 75 feet in length. These trucks can cause significant damage when they collide with the passenger vehicle.
By easing the restrictions on large commercial truck drivers, there is a risk that more of them will operate while fatigued behind the wheel.
We are here to help you through this
If you or somebody you love has sustained an injury due to the actions of a truck driver or trucking company, seek legal assistance as soon as possible. At Colson Hicks Eidson, our skilled and experienced team is ready to conduct a thorough investigation into your case so we can seek compensation for:
- Your medical expenses
- Lost income and benefits
- Pain and suffering damages
- Loss of personal enjoyment images
- Possible punitive damages against the truck driver or trucking company