Changes to hours-of-service for truckers stokes safety concerns

On Behalf of | Oct 5, 2020 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

For drivers in Illinois and across the nation, sharing the road with large trucks can be concerning. Given their size and the speeds at which they travel, a motor vehicle accident between a passenger vehicle and a semi-truck can cause serious injuries and fatalities. There is an inherent trust that truckers will adhere to the rules of their profession and the road. A growing concern, however, surrounds upcoming changes to those rules – specifically hours-of-service. A dispute is in progress regarding these changes and those who are in a crash should be aware of them.

Several entities file a lawsuit about hours-of-service changes

Disparate groups have filed a lawsuit to challenge the implementation of new hours-of-service rules for truckers. They are worried that that changes may lay the foundation for an increase in truck crashes. These groups include the Teamsters and advocates for road safety. The filing is against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

The new rules are now in effect and change the exemption for hours on the road for short-haul truckers to 150 when it was previously 100. They can stay on duty for 14 hours, extended from 12. If there are poor road conditions, these can be expanded by as much as two hours. Drivers previously needed to take a half-hour break after driving for eight consecutive hours. There is also the reinstatement of the option for drivers to split their 10-hour break if they have a sleeper berth in their truck.

Number of road fatalities cited in list of concerns

The statistics for truck accidents in 2018 were worrisome to safety advocates. In that year, there were 4,951 deaths in a truck crash. This, in combination with research regarding drowsy truckers, has been the catalyst for protesting the new rules. The 2019 statistical analysis has yet to be completed, but there is an initial belief that fatalities rose by 1%.

Assessing the cause of a truck accident and seeking compensation

It is generally in a trucker’s interest and the interest of the employer to get a delivery to its destination as quickly as possible. With these new rules, that could result in driving beyond their limits and driving drowsy, speeding and using substances to stay alert – all of which can place others on the road in danger. When there is a truck accident, people can face major medical expenses, a long hospitalization, problems getting back to work and even fatalities. If the trucker fell asleep behind the wheel or violated the law, this can be fundamental in a legal claim. Consulting with a firm experienced in motor vehicle accidents can accrue evidence and may help with a lawsuit for compensation.