Federal regulations to enhance vehicle safety and highway safety are a critical strategy for reducing car accidents, motorcycle accidents and truck wrecks. One agency that has a vital role in this process is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which was created by Congress to reduce the number and severity of crashes between commercial trucks and the many other smaller vehicles with which they share the road.
The long bureaucratic struggle to revise the federal Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations finally came to an end with the FMCSA’s release of a final rule in late December. Key aspects of the rule will go into effect nationwide at the end of February 2012.
While trucking safety advocates had lobbied in favor of a reduction in the daily number of hours a truck driver can spend behind the wheel, the new rule allows truckers to continue to drive 11 hours per day. The most important new restriction is a reduction in the allowable weekly hours of service from 82 hours to 70 hours over any seven-day period.
The new rule also changes the definition of “on duty” time, which now includes any time that the driver is in the truck but not in the sleeper cab. Truck drivers are also to be considered on duty if they are waiting for a truck to be loaded or unloaded and are responsible for the truck.
Driver fatigue is one of the primary causes of trucking accidents, and a key part of any truck accident investigation is determining whether a trucker exceeded HOS limits. The strict legal regulations and complex paper trail behind any truck wreck are the primary reason why it makes sense to work with an experienced truck accident lawyer to hold trucking companies and drivers fully accountable.