Skip to Main Content

Trump’s Weakened Hours of Service Rules Increase Risk of Fatigue-Related Truck & 18-Wheeler Crashes

FMCSA Finalizes Weakened Truck Driver Hours of Service Rules | Texas 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer

More than two years after its trucking industry allies began lobbying the Trump administration for Hours of Service “reform”, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has finalized a proposal that will greatly weaken vital safety regulations aimed at preventing fatigue-related truck and 18-wheeler crashes.

The final revised rules were announced last Thursday and could go into effect as soon as September 15th.

“The Department of Transportation and the Trump administration listened directly to the concerns of truckers seeking rules that are safer and have more flexibility – and we have acted,” said FMCSA acting Administrator Jim Mullen.

How the Hours of Service Rules Will Change

The federal Hours of Service rules were enacted in 1937 and were designed to prevent truck and 18 wheeler operators from driving while fatigued by limiting the number of hours they can remain behind the wheel without taking a break or going off-duty.

The trucking industry has sought to make the regulations more “flexible” for decades.

Last week, the Trump administration granted final approval to revisions that will alter the Hours of Service rules in four key areas:

  • Modifies the 30-minute break provision to require a break after 8 hours of consecutive driving time (instead of on-duty time) and allows time on duty, but not driving, to qualify as a 30-minute break.
  • Increases on-duty limits for short-haul operations from 12 to 14 hours and from 100 air-miles to 150
  • Extends the maximum driving window by two hours if a driver encounters adverse conditions
  • Weakens the sleeper berth exception by allowing drivers to split their required 10 hours off duty into two periods. Once the rules take effect, truckers will  be permitted to take one break of at least seven hours in the sleeper berth, while a second lasting at least two consecutive hours could be taken either off duty or in the sleeper berth. Neither period would count against the 14‑hour driving window.

Driver Fatigue a Major Contributor to Truck and 18-Wheeler Crashes

Fatigue is recognized as a major contributor to truck and 18-wheeler accidents.  In fact, the National Transportation Safety Board has included reducing fatigue-related crashes on its Most Wanted List of safety improvements every year since 2016.

The Trump administration claims the new Hours of Service rules will allow the industry more flexibility and save the economy $274 million per year without compromising safety. But according to critics, the soon-to-be enacted regulations fly in the face of established science that proves driver fatigue and crash risk are impacted by the quality of sleep, as well as the times when driving occurs.

“Deaths from crashes involving large trucks are skyrocketing with nearly 100 people being killed and over 2,800 more being injured every week on average,” said Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety President Cathy Chase. “Any regulatory changes should be focused on reducing this preventable death and injury toll.  Extending truck drivers’ already highly demanding work days and reducing opportunity for rest will endanger the public.”

Contact our Undefeated Truck Accident Lawyers for a Free Consultation at 1-888-603-3636 or by Clicking Here

Our Undefeated Truck and 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyers have won billions—including the Largest Fatigued-Related Truck and 18 Wheeler Accident Verdicts and Settlements—against the biggest trucking and transportation companies in the world.

If you or a loved one were injured in a Truck and 18 Wheeler Accident, contact our Truck Accident Lawyers at 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form.

All consultations are free, and you’ll pay nothing unless we win your case.