Truck Accidents and Driver Fatigue

Almost a year ago, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed new limits on Hours of Service (HOS) rules for commercial drivers. While the intent was to improve highway safety for all who travel by limiting fatigue among truck drivers, the proposed changes have come under fire from trucking advocacy groups as having little impact on highway safety. The proposed changes in hours of service have not yet been finalized.

Existing Hours of Service Limitations for Commercial Drivers

HOS regulations generally apply to all drivers of commercial vehicles. A commercial vehicle weighs 10,001 pounds or more, has a gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight of 10,001 pounds or more; is made to transport 9 or more people for compensation or 16 or more people without compensation; or is used to transport hazardous chemicals of a quantity that requires a placard.
HOS limits are determined by the load a commercial driver is carrying. According to the FMCSA, if the driver is transporting property, he or she is limited to:

  • 11 hours of driving after 10 hours off
  • 14 hour on-duty driving limit
  • 60/70 hour driving limit in 7/8 consecutive days

If a commercial driver is transporting people, he or she is limited to:

  • 10 hours of driving after 8 hours off
  • 15 hour on-duty limit
  • 60/70 hour driving limit in 7/8 days

The proposed rule change to hours of service would affect mostly those who drive commercial trucks transporting property.

Proposed Hours of Service Limitations for Commercial Truck Drivers

The new rules related to HOS would be as follows:

  • Off duty period: This would not change and would still be 10 hours.
  • Driving window: Limited to 14 hours and must be released from duty at the end of the driving window.
  • Maximum driving time within driving window: 10 or 11 hours

As with any federal regulations, there are more details than those outlined here, as well as exceptions to the proposed changes noted.

The Importance of Hours of Service Limitations for Truck Drivers

According to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, hours of service rules are intended to, “help create an environment where commercial truck drivers are rested, alert and focused on safety while on the job.” The desired outcome of the HOS regulations is to minimize the risk of truck accidents related to driver fatigue and promote safety for all those who travel the Atlanta, Georgia and United States highway systems.

If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident, whether with a semi-truck, another commercial truck or van, or any other motor vehicle on the roadway, an experienced car accident attorney in your area can work with you to recover from the at-fault driver.