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Suspension of truck safety rule highlights problem of trucker fatigue

Trucking safety has been a big topic in recent months, and a recent decision by the Federal Motor Safety Administration brought the issue even more into public light. In mid-December, the agency suspended a federal safety rule which required truckers to take narrowly defined safety breaks. The measure is known as the 34-hour restart provision.

Under the suspended provision, which was implemented in 2013 according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truckers were allowed to restart their work week only after taking a minimum of 34 hours of rest. The rule specifically required truckers to take two rest periods between the hours of one o’clock and five o’clock in the morning, and limited the use of the restart to once every 168 hours.

The purpose of the suspension was that further research is apparently needed to determine the effectiveness of the measure, which has been alleged by trucking industry leaders to do have a negative impact on the industry without much benefit from a safety standpoint. It isn’t clear how long an inquiry into the measure will take at this point.

So, what is the significance of all this? Truck safety is an important issue for all drivers, because when truckers don’t drive safety, we are all at risk. One of the primary purposes of the measure was to help reduce truck driver fatigue. Federal rules pertaining to trucking safety can have a significant impact on the way truckers operate their vehicles, especially because truckers who fail to abide by federal safety measures can be held liable for the consequences of their oversights in personal injury litigation.

Those who are harmed by a negligent or reckless trucker should work with an experienced attorney to determine the best way to proceed in their case and to ensure they receive the representation they need to protect their rights.

Source: safety.blr.com, “Hours of Service (HOS) rules for trucking companies eased in holiday gift from feds,” Jan. 9, 2014.

Safety+Health Magazine, “Congress suspends restart provision on trucker hours of service,” Dec. 26, 2015.

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