New Hours of Service Regulations Will Combat 18 Wheeler Driver Fatigue

On July 1, 2013, new federal regulations went into effect to restrict the number of hours long-haul truckers can spend driving without a break and the total number of driving hours allowable in a single seven-day period. These hours of service (HOS) regulations are designed to promote safety, reduce fatigue for drivers and decrease the frequency of 18 wheeler accidents on U.S. highways and thoroughfares. The new HOS rules are receiving a great deal of negative feedback from trucking companies and long-haul truckers due to the potential for lost profits and decreased wages within the industry. The New HOS Regulations The new rules require drivers to take at least a 30-minute break for each eight hours of driving time and restrict drivers to a maximum of 14 hours of consecutive driving time regardless of breaks. Drivers must spend at least 10 hours off duty during each 24-hour period. Additionally, drivers are restricted to 60 hours of driving during a seven-day work period and 70 hours of driving during any eight-day work period. Drivers are required to take 34 hours of consecutive off-duty time during each 168-hour week; this off-duty time must include two periods from 1 a.m. to 5 p.m. Balancing Financial Concerns with Safety The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) instituted these new rules in an effort to reduce the number of 18 wheeler accidents that occur each year on American streets and highways. The added costs to trucking companies are an inevitable consequence of these attempts to reduce driver fatigue. Currently, about 4,000 large truck accidents occur each year. Many of these result in fatalities or serious injuries due to the size and weight of 18-wheelers in comparison to other vehicles on the highway. The FMCSA estimates that nearly 20 lives can be saved each year by the implementation of these new HOS rules. According to the federal agency, only 15 percent of drivers will see any change in their regular schedules; the majority of drivers are already in compliance with these new regulations. Preventing the Worst Accidents Accidents involving semi trucks and cars or pickups generally result in serious injury or death for the passengers in the smaller vehicle. The sheer weight and force of impact can total a passenger car in seconds and may necessitate prolonged extrication efforts before the injured parties receive initial medical treatment. These delays can further reduce the chance of survival for critically injured individuals and may lead to extended recovery times for those who survive the initial crash. Seeking Legal Help after an 18-Wheeler Crash For individuals who have been injured or who have lost a loved one in an 18-wheeler accident, seeking compensation for their losses is often a matter of justice as well as financial payment. Truck accident attorneys specialize in providing expert assistance for accident victims in obtaining a fair settlement for their losses and injuries. A qualified 18-wheeler accident attorney has the knowledge and expertise to determine the causes of the crash, to identify any additional factors that may have played a role in the accident and to present these facts persuasively to the insurance company and in the courtroom setting. By enlisting the services of a truck accident lawyer, the victims of 18-wheeler accidents and their families can ensure that they receive the maximum settlement for their injuries and for any wrongful deaths that resulted from the other driver’s negligence. An accident attorney specializes in the in-depth investigation of crashes. This allows them to discover any violations of federal regulations on the part of the truck driver and to hold both the driver and the trucking company responsible for those violations. By ensuring that all culpable parties are named as defendant to the settlement negotiations, experienced truck accident attorneys can ensure that victims receive the compensation they deserve for these catastrophic events.