From 2009 to 2017, 44 states have experienced increases in the number of people killed in large truck crashes. Despite this, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has presented a proposal to drastically weaken the hours of service (HOS) rules for truck drivers. The FMCSA claims that these changes will provide greater flexibility for drivers without adversely affecting safety, but these proposals are contrary to the agency’s main mission, which is to improve truck safety. The FMCSA has failed to show how these changes can improve safety on the roadways for everyone.
The five rollbacks that the agency is proposing that will weaken the effectiveness of the life-saving Hours of Service rules are as follows:
- Lengthening the drivers’ maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the distance limit within which the driver may operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.
- Modifying the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by 2 hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.
- Increasing “flexibility for the 30-minute break rule by requiring a break after 8 hours of driving time (instead of on-duty time), and allowing the requirement to be satisfied by an on-duty break from driving, rather than requiring an off-duty break.”
- Allowing drivers to split their required 10-hours off duty into two periods: one period of at least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and the other period of not less than 2 consecutive hours, either off duty or in the sleeper berth. Neither period would count against the driver’s 14-hour driving window.
- Allowing “one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, but not more than 3 hours, that would pause a truck driver’s 14-hour driving window, provided the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work shift.”
These changes have not yet been implemented. Groups such as the Truck Safety Coalition (trucksafety.org) recommend posting comments in opposition to these proposed safety-diminishing changes on our roadways.
The FMCSA’s proposed changes to the hours of service rules for truck drivers will not improve safety. The agency is offering flexibility without regard for the fact that it could be exploited by the worst actors in the industry, including drivers who will operate while fatigued and motor carriers who will coerce them to do so. We agree with the Truck Safety Coalition that these proposals should be withdrawn. Instead, the agency should direct its focus on changes to improve safety on roadways, with things such as speed limiters and automatic emergency braking.
If you or a family member has been involved in a crash with large truck, please do not wait to call us at O’Brien Law LLC so that we can assist you in protecting your rights. The trucking companies will definitely be aggressively defending truck crashes from the moment they occur. Call Dan O’Brien at (630) 480-4130 for a free consultation on your case or visit our website at www.genevainjurylaw.com.