Illegal Hours of Service Guidelines Still in Effect
One wonders what it will take to get realistic Hours of Service (HoS) guidelines for truckers instituted. The rules, which govern the amount of time professional truck drivers may be on the road, and which have been in place since 1939 were altered in 2004 to allow drivers to drive eleven hours with only ten hours off. This created a 21-hour cycle that is allowed to run continuously until the driver has reached the ostensible maximum of 60 hours on duty in 7 days. However, drivers are able to get past that restriction by resting for 34 consecutive hours. With the 21-hour schedule, this means that drivers can actually drive as many as 77 hours over seven days. And the guidelines do not restrict drivers from conducting other work, such as loading and unloading the truck, during their rest hours.
Although the American Trucking Association (ATA), the industry image and advocacy organization, claims that driver fatigue is linked to only 1/10 of large truck crashes, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports say that it is a significant factor in 30-40% of all heavy truck crashes, and as many as 75% of run-off-the-road crashes. Reports also indicate that as many as 68% of truckers experience fatigue-related crashes.
In response to the HoS guidelines, public safety organizations brought a lawsuit against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). A federal judge found that the guidelines were illegal and had to be rewritten. Then the FMCSA released the same guidelines again. The guidelines were again challenged and again found to be illegal. Now the FMCSA has issued the same guidelines again, and the senate has scheduled time for the commerce committee to debate the issue.
So far, though, the only remedy available to those who are injured or lose loved ones every day to fatigue-related trucking accidents is the courts. If you have been injured or have lost a loved one to the blatantly irresponsible practices of the trucking industry, contact PersonalInjury.com today to get in touch with a local lawyer who can take up your case.