New Orleans, LA- Congress may manage to avert a government shutdown by passing a budget bill just days ahead of a crucial deadline, but included in that budget bill is a laundry list of legislative measures that have little to do with funding the federal government. One of those measures will please the commercial trucking industry, as well as dishearten trucking safety advocates by rolling back hours-of –service rules aimed at reducing fatigued driving accidents in commercial trucking industry.

Republican Senator from Maine, Susan Collins added a rider to budget omnibus, some 1,600 pages long, at the behest of the trucking industry which objects to the restart rule for truck drivers instituted in 2012 by the Department of Transportation. If the budget passes Congress, current hours-of-service regulations will be suspended until September of 2015, and the Department of Transportation is required to launch another “study of the operational, safety, health and fatigue impacts of the restart provisions,” the Commercial Carrier Journal reported.

Since implementation of the HOS rules in 2013, each work week is capped at maximum of 77 hours in a seven-day period or a maximum of 88 hours in an eight-day period. Drivers must include at least two rest periods before a new work week can start and they must include at least two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. rest periods.

Sen. Collins’ rider requires only one rest period per week for truck drivers and suspends the provision that limits a restart to one time a week, according to the Commercial Carrier Journal.

Additionally, the rider requires the DOT to conduct additional studies on top of the comprehensive studies the agency initially conducted to develop current hours-of-service rules. The new studies must demonstrate recent hours-of-service rules “provide[s] a greater net benefit for the operational, safety, health and fatigue impacts” than prior hours-of-service rules.

The trucking industry, which has  lobbied Congress to suspend the HOS rules, will be pleased with its inclusion on the budget bill, but truck accident victim advocates are critical of the rider, fearing that it will lead to more deadly or injurious truck accidents. Our Louisiana truck accident attorneys have heard of numerous cases where a fatigued truck driver has caused a devastating accident.

Fatigued driving is an issue for all motorists and recent studies have shown that it is as dangerous as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Fatigue refers the lack of sufficient rest or physical and/or mental exhaustion. Dozing off behind the wheel for a mere second can set a collision in motion and cause injury or death to one or more motorists, including the fatigued driver.

Driving while fatigued or is hazardous for any motorist, but it can be especially devastating when an exhausted or drowsy driver is in command of a large and heavy commercial truck. Accidents involving tractor-trailers, semi, tankers and other large trucks tend to be twice as deadly as vehicle accidents. In order to attain a just settlement, accident victims need to consult with a New Orleans truck accident lawyer to outline their options for recovering their medical costs and damages for their pain and suffering.