FMCSA Close to Weakening Hours of Service Regulations Enacted to Prevent Fatigue-Related Truck Crashes
A federal agency tasked with ensuring commercial carriers operate safely is closer to adopting a proposal that would significantly weaken the Hours of Service Regulations enacted to prevent fatigued-related truck and bus crashes.
As a top 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer, Ryan Zehl has successfully represented clients in cases involving overworked and fatigued commercial drivers.
FMCSA Proposal Targets 4 Key Hours of Service Provisions
The National Highway Traffic Safety Board estimates that driver fatigue causes or contributes to roughly 40% of all commercial trucking accidents.
To prevent fatigue-related crashes, the Hours of Service Regulations limit the number of daily and weekly hours a commercial driver can work or operate a vehicle. The regulations also specify the minimum amount of time a commercial driver must rest between driving shifts.
Last year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed weakening the Hours of Service rules in four key ways:
- Expand the current 100 air-mile “short-haul” exemption from 12 hours on-duty to 14 hours on-duty.
- Extend the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to 2 hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions.
- Revise the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after 8-hours of continuous driving.
- Reinstate the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks equipped with a sleeper-berth.
Hours of Service Rule Proposal Generates 5,200 Public Comments
During the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) annual convention in Las Vegas last week, Administrator Ray Martinez indicated the FMCSA would soon complete a review of over 5,200 public comments responding to the proposal.
“We are very encouraged by the quantity and quality of the responses we received and the information that was provided,” he said “We want to thank TCA especially for your extensive and thoughtful contributions and responses. We are very close to concluding our evaluation and proposing new rules,’
During his remarks, Martinez also touted his agency’s “more collaborative” approach to the trucking industry in the Trump era.
“There is a different attitude now,” he continued. “There are some people who believe that the more laws you pass and the more regulations you pass, that that equals greater safety. I disagree. It’s not achieved by more laws and regulations necessarily – it happens because of a culture of safety at your companies. I can commit to you today that our agency is here to listen to you, learn from you and work with you.”
FMCSA Dropped Sleep Apnea Screening Proposal Opposed by Commercial Trucking Industry
Martinez’s statements make sense, given the Trump Administration’s willingness to do the industry’s bidding.
In fact, during the President’s first year in office, the FMCSA abandoned a proposed regulation that would have required all commercial drivers to undergo medical screening for Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
The Obama Administration proposed the screening requirement in 2016, after a horrific crash between a tour bus and an 18-wheeler killed 13 people outside of Palm Springs, California. The bus driver died in the accident, and likely fell asleep at the wheel. The subsequent investigation also suggested that both drivers may have suffered from undiagnosed, Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
A recent study found that drivers with Obstructive Sleep Apnea have a 123% greater crash risk, a statistic confirmed by the FMCS own Medical Review Board. Nevertheless, trucking industry groups fiercely oppose any regulations mandating sleep apnea screening for commercial drivers.
Our Undefeated Truck Accident Lawyers Have Won Record-Breaking Verdicts and Settlements in Fatigue-Related Crashes
Our Undefeated Truck Accident Lawyers have won record-breaking verdicts and settlements in cases involving undiagnosed, Obstructive Sleep Apnea and fatigued commercial drivers.
Most recently, for example, our attorneys negotiated a $6 million settlement on behalf of several people injured when a Greyhound driver lost control of their bus, causing it to roll over several times.
Greyhound eventually agreed to settle their case after we obtained the first court-ordered sleep study of a commercial driver in Texas, proving the driver suffered from moderate-to-severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea and likely fell asleep at the wheel.
Our Record-Breaking Settlement is the largest ever involving driver fatigue in Greyhound’s corporate history, and was covered by CBS Morning News and other media outlets throughout the United States.
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