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Lawmakers attempt to delay rule aimed at reducing truck driver fatigue

Federal lawmakers recently introduced a bill that seeks to delay the application of truck-driver fatigue rules that were promulgated by the FMCSA.
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    December 03, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Late last month, federal lawmakers introduced a bill that seeks to delay the application of the new Hours of Service (HOS) rule that was promulgated by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The rule, which became effect on July 1, was created for the expressed purposed of making the roads safer by limiting the number of hours a truck driver may stay behind the wheel - thus reducing the likelihood of truck driver fatigue and the trucking accidents that it can cause.

Specifically, the recently amended HOS rule has several new provisions, including:
- A requirement that truck drivers take a 30 minutes break during the first eight hours of their shift
- A cap on the maximum average work week for truck driver of 70 hours, down from the previous maximum of 82 hours
- A requirement that drivers who reach their 70-hour weekly limit may only resume driving if they rest for 34 straight hours, which must include at least two periods from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.

The last of these amendments is more commonly known as the 34-hour "restart" provision, which happens to be the portion of the new rule that the recent congressional bill - H.R. 3413 - is attempting to delay.

Citing concerns of reduced productivity and extra costs to trucking companies, the bill wants the restart provision delayed until the Government Accountability Office can independently review the reasoning and research behind the rule change.

However, the FMCSA estimates that the new rule will ultimately result in $280 million in savings due to fewer trucking accidents, with an addition $470 million in savings from improved truck driver health. Moreover, the HOS rule changes will prevent roughly 1,400 truck crashes, 560 injuries and 19 traffic fatalities every year on U.S. roadways, according to the FMCSA.

Conversely, even if the new rule does in fact impact the profits for trucking companies a small percentage, the question then becomes, how many innocent lives need to be sacrificed to driver fatigue for the sake of protecting a minimal amount of productivity and profit?

Sadly, if lawmakers ultimately decide to delay the application of the new restart provision, truck drivers will continue to push themselves as far as the law allows in order to make strict delivery deadlines. It is in circumstances such as these in which drivers stay behind the wheel, despite their fatigue, and accidents occur. Fatigued truck drivers not only risk their own lives, but the lives of those they share the road with.

Consequently, if you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident because the truck driver should have been asleep instead of driving, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney. A knowledgeable attorney can help investigate the cause of your accident and assist in getting the compensation you may be entitled.

Article provided by Domnitz & Skemp, S.C.
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