The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) created the hours-of-service (HOS) rules as a way to “reduce excessively long work hours that increase both the risk of fatigue-related crashes and long-term health problems for drivers.” Although the rule isn’t a guarantee that truck drivers will get in an adequate amount of rest, the rule does give operators of commercial vehicles an opportunity to get in the recommended seven to eight hours of rest each day. With drivers being limited to a set number of hours they could work each day, the FMCSA expected to see fewer accidents occurring stemming from fatigued commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.
When the FMCSA introduced the hours-of-service rules, it stated that drivers could remain on-duty for 14 consecutive hours but must spend 10 consecutive hours off-duty. The rule also “increased driving time from 10 to 11 hours and allowed drivers to restart their duty time calculations whenever they took at least 34 consecutive hours off.” While the hours-of-service rules may have contributed to reducing the number of truck collisions that are occurring, the FMCSA is proposing that changes should be made to the current HOS regulations.
What changes are the FMCSA proposing be made to the current HOS rule?
According to the Commercial Carrier Journal, the FMCSA is suggesting that drivers are given the option to pause their 14-hour clock for up to three hours in a shift and go off-duty in that time period. The source also highlighted that truck drivers would still be required to take their 10-hour off-duty break at the end of their 14-hour shift after using the three-hour pause option. The proposal also suggested that drivers would be allowed to extend their 14-hour on-duty shift period by up to two hours in the event adverse conditions are present as well as allow short-haul drivers to extend their on-duty periods from 12 to 14 hours.
What risks do these proposed changes carry with them?
Although the FCMSA believes these laxer regulations would “provide greater flexibility for drivers subject to the HOS rules without adversely affecting safety,” many drivers have already commented on the proposal, many of which who aren’t too thrilled about them. Although these changes could be modified using the feedback the FMCSA has received, a laxer rule could contribute to roadway risk.
With a trucker having the ability to pause their shift for three-hours, or any amount of time for that matter, they could use this time to wait for rush hour traffic to pass or to wait at a delivery location or shipper [Source: Trucking Info]. Unfortunately, a truck driver who opts to take advantage of the three-hour pause option may not use this time as intended which means the driver may actually be physically working a 17-hour shift, not a 14-hour shift. This, in turn, could result in a trucker becoming even more fatigued than they would have had they not taken the three-hour break.
On the other hand, if a truck driver does use this break period for just that, to take a break, then the proposed changes might benefit him or her and reduce the chances of them becoming fatigued. Either way, driver fatigue is a serious issue in the trucking industry, therefore, any proposed changes that are geared toward making the roadways safer are encouraged to be considered.
Involved in a trucking accident in Chesterfield, MO that was caused by a driver who violated the HOS rule?
If you were involved in a trucking accident in Chesterfield, MO and you suspect it was caused by a negligent or careless truck driver, you are encouraged to contact the MO truck accident lawyers at Kruse Law, LLC. The team of dedicated attorneys at this firm can help you file a claim and recover the compensation you need and deserve.
Kruse Law, LLC is located at:
2016 S. Big Bend Boulevard
Richmond Heights, MO 63117