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Rules to Prevent Fatigue-Related Truck Accidents Suspended After Colonial Pipeline Cyberattack

Undefeated 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer | Hours-of-Service-Rules Suspended in 17 States

The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a new emergency declaration suspending the Hours-of-Service Regulations for certain commercial drivers and motor carriers in response to the recent cyberattack that shut down the Colonial Pipeline.

Hours-of-Service Rules, Other Trucking Regulations Relaxed in 17 States

In addition to the Hours-of-Service rules, the agency also relaxed regulations relating to parts and accessories required for safe operation and longer combination vehicles. However, the declaration does not provide relief from drug and alcohol regulations, commercial driver’s license requirements, or size and weight requirements.

According to the FMCSA, the rule suspension applies to any drivers and motor carriers in 17 states assisting operations linked to refined petroleum supply chains in the East Coast, including Alabama, Arkansas, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. The declaration will remain in effect until the pipeline emergency ends or June 8th, whichever comes first.

“Such [an] emergency is in response to the unanticipated shutdown of the Colonial pipeline system due to network issues that affect the supply of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other refined petroleum products throughout the Affected States,” the directive said. “This Declaration addresses the emergency conditions creating a need for immediate transportation of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other refined petroleum products and provides necessary relief.”

Colonia Pipeline Delivers Nearly Half of East Coast Fuel Supply

The 5,500-mile Colonial Pipeline delivers nearly half of the diesel and gasoline – about 100-millions gallons of fuel daily — consumed on the East Coast. However, the vital network was preemptively shut down Friday to prevent malware from spreading to the control systems that run the pipeline.

A criminal group originating from Russia named “DarkSide” is believed to be responsible for the hack, with the FBI confirming yesterday that DarkSide ransomware was involved. According to The New York Times, the law enforcement agency also issued an emergency alert to electric utilities, gas suppliers, and other pipeline operators to be on the lookout for similar code out of concern that the attack could spread.

Colonial Pipelines, the private company that runs the network, hopes to “substantially” resume service by the end of this week. However, the process will take time and could be delayed by unforeseen circumstances. So far, the impact on East Coast fuel supplies has been minimal, but a prolonged shutdown could result in widespread shortages.

About the Hours-of-Service Regulations

The Hours-of-Service Regulations are intended to prevent fatigue-related truck and 18-wheeler accidents by limiting the amount of time a commercial driver can spend on the road and performing other work-related duties before taking a break.

During the Trump administration, the FMCSA weakened the regulations in several key areas. Last year, the agency announced a nationwide temporary suspension of the Hours-of-Service rules for the first time in history in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) estimates that 30-to-40% of all large truck crashes result from driver fatigue. But the actual number is probably much higher, as few police accident reports note this type of impairment.

It’s likely the weakened Hours-of-Service rules and a severe shortage of commercial drivers have already led to an increase in the number of overworked and exhausted truckers on the nation’s roads and highways. Those impacted by this latest FMCSA emergency declaration will be hauling highly flammable and explosive fuels, only adding to the dangers posed by fatigued driving.

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