DOT Limits Truckers Drive Time Per Week But Not Per Day
by Bret Schnitzer
Sleep deprivation and being tired accounts for both traffic accidents and fatalities. Studies have long established that being overly tired can both slow reaction time and affect a truck operator much in the same manner as being intoxicated or under the influence of medication. The risk of falling asleep at the wheel is also very real for a truck driver who has had significant sleep deprivation. Often times it is the trucking company that is responsible for pressuring their drivers to push their boundaries of endurance in this regard. Consequently, There has been an ongoing push to establish more stringent DOT regulations to limit the number of hours per day and hours per week that truckers can be allowed to operate their trucks. These safety concerns are very real and do dramatically impact peoples lives in very significant ways.
We all know how devastating a truck accident can be. As Truck Accident Injury Attorneys we are well versed in the DOT regulations for truck drivers and pay very close attention to whether there was full compliance with those DOT regulations when representing clients whose injury results from a truck accident. Many times we have established Truck driver liability through a violation of a DOT regulation. Here is a link to the DOT regulations for truckers. These DOT regulations often play a significant role in proving that a trucking company is responsible for an accident. We have also established responsibility for a trucking company without a DOT violation as well under a violation of Michigan traffic laws and/or general negligence. We have been handling Truck related accidents for over 25 years. Call us for a free consultation at (313) 389-2234. You will be glad you did.
Reprint of News Article pertaining to DOT Truck Driving Regulations
Federal transportation officials in December 2011 announced new scheduling rules for truck drivers that put a cap on how many hours they could work per week, but not on the number of hours per day, which safety advocates had been pushing for.
The changes, announced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, come a day after the Department of Transportation finalized new scheduling rules for pilots. FMCSA said Thursday that its new rules for truckers would limit the number of hours a driver could work to 70 per week.
Under the old rules, FMCSA officials said, truckers could drive 82 hours per week.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the new rules rules were another important step toward improving transportation safety.
“Trucking is a difficult job, and a big rig can be deadly when a driver is tired and overworked,” LaHood said in a statement. “This final rule will help prevent fatigue-related truck crashes and save lives. Truck drivers deserve a work environment that allows them to perform their jobs safely.”
Safety advocates has pushed transportation officials also to place a limit on the number of hours truckers could drive each day. The new rules require truckers to take a break of at least 30 minutes for every eight hours they drive, but they maintain a daily 11-hour limit on driving.
the Arlington, Va.-based Truck Safety Coalition called the unchanged daily limit “dangerous.”
“This rule will not come near addressing the widespread problem of fatigue in the trucking industry,” Ed Slattery, whose wife was killed in an accident with a trucker, said in a statement released by the organization.
“A 70-hour workweek still exceeds most Americans’ schedules by 30 hours per week, or 1,560 per year, and most Americans do not control an 80,000-pound vehicle and have the fate of others near them in their control,” he said.
The new rules were also met with skepticism by the commercial retail industry, which relies heavily on trucks to ship goods. The Retail Industry Leaders Association, also based in Arlington, said the new requirements would “increase highway congestion and increase the cost of moving goods via trucks.”
“Rather than encouraging greater efficiency, the new hours of service regulations will increase transportation costs, congestion and pollution by funneling more trucks onto the road at peak driving times,” RILA vice president for government relations Kelly Kolb said in a statement.
“Supply-chain optimization is the bread and butter of America’s most successful retailers,” Kolb continued. “Their ability to move goods efficiently has changed the retail landscape and benefited consumers by reducing prices and increasing product assortments. The new hours-of-service rule will upend the advances in efficiency made over the past decade.”
Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) have introduced a bill to address trucker safety, the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Enhancement Act. The measure would require on-board recording devices like airplanes have to assist accident investigations and give the FMCSA more authority to penalize “reincarnated carriers,” or companies that resume service under a different name after being shut down by regulators.
Lautenberg said in December 2011 that he supported the rules released by the DOT Thursday, but that he would keep pushing for his bill.
“Trucks are an essential part of our transportation network, but we must work hard to ensure safety never takes a backseat,” he said. “This rule is an important step that shows we are gaining on the issue of fatigue-related crashes, but more needs to be done and I remain concerned by the number of hours per day that drivers can be on the road.”
Lautenberg added that truckers had a responsibility for safety too.
“If drivers are not fully alert, they should not be behind the wheel,” he said Thursday. “We must make sure that only the safest drivers are on America’s roads, and I will continue fighting to pass my truck safety bill.”