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Truck driver fatigue a leading concern for federal DOT

Safety vs. economics. We see examples of the struggle on a regular basis; sometimes at the expense of human lives. Vehicles that should have been recalled and fixed relatively inexpensively are allowed to remain on the road until someone dies as a result of the defect. Sadly, the resulting injuries and fatalities could have been prevented for a monetary "drop in the bucket" in the budgets of the companies involved.

Another major area where safety and economics often conflict is in the trucking industry. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, driver fatigue is a leading cause of the almost 4,000 deaths that result from accidents involving large trucks each year.

Because of these staggering statistics, the FMCSA issued a rule in 2011 that limited the "hours of service" for truck drivers operating across the country including in Florida.

Under the revised rules, drivers are required to take a 30-minute break within eight hours of the start of their shift and the existing 34-hour rest period (the "restart") was amended to allow a driver to restart only once in a seven-day period and to take at least two rest periods between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. during the restart shift.

While those rules were proposed for safety, they have also affected the economics of the trucking industry. The new rules effectively restrict the average number of hours per week that a driver is allowed to work from 82 to 70 hours. That, of course, translates to fewer hours and less income for drivers and the need for the trucking companies to employ more drivers to meet delivery schedules. Some members of Congress are still fighting the restart provision.

Regardless of the number of hours truckers are allowed to be on the roads, trucking accidents will still happen. If you or a loved one are involved in a trucking accident, it is important that you understand your rights of compensation and recovery.

A consultation with an attorney who is familiar with the laws and regulations of the trucking industry will be of benefit to you in your search for justice.

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