DOT moving to relax truck drivers’ limits with hours

On Behalf of | Jul 9, 2019 | Personal Injury

Some truck drivers in New Mexico and other states aren’t happy with restrictions placed on their hours behind the wheel during long hauls. This is part of the reason why the trucking industry has been pushing for a relaxation of these restrictions. In response, the Department of Transportation is pushing to relax federal guidelines that place limits on driving hours. Safety advocates, however, are concerned about the move.

Long-haul truck driver hours are currently limited to 11 hours of driving within a 14-hour on-duty period. However, drivers are required to clock 10 consecutive off-duty hours before they start their on-duty rotation again. Plus, drivers must take a 30-minute break before they get to eight hours of driving time if they’ll be driving for additional hours beyond this point. Violations could result in additional out of service days.

Fatal accidents involving large trucks have been on the rise, according to government data, which is why there is concern about relaxing drivers’ hours. In 2017, nearly 4,300 fatal collisions involved large trucks. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also reports that more than half of all fatal truck crashes occurred in rural areas. What’s more, the majority of accidents occurred during later hours of the day or early in the morning. Sixty drivers involved in fatal accidents were also identified as being “fatigued” or “asleep.” The National Transportation Safety Board believes driver fatigue is under-reported.

When a truck accident occurs, there’s the potential for serious injuries to affect other drivers, pedestrians, and motorcycle drivers sharing the same spaces. Should this happen, a personal injury attorney might attempt to determine fault so decisions about appropriate legal action can be made. This process may involve a review of a driver’s logged hours to identify any possible violations. Personal device data might also be reviewed to look for evidence of distraction.