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FMCSA Hours-of-Service Guidelines

Published February 7, 2012 by Scott Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney

Last month our Binghamton truck accident attorneys reported on the top causes of tractor-trailer accidents in New York and across the country. In an effort to make a difference in one of the causes, driver fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) just announced it has made the hours-of-service provisions more stringent for truck drivers.

The hours-of-service provision was initially put in place under the Motor Carrier Act of 1935 as a way to limit the number of hours truckers could drive and are aimed at preventing fatigue-related truck crashes and increasing safety on America’s roadways. After reviewing existing fatigue research and working with organizations like the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies and the National Institute for Occupational Safety, the FMCSA announced in December it had made changes to the hours-of-service safety requirements for commercial truck drivers.

FMCSA’s new rule reduces by 12 hours the maximum number of hours a truck driver can work within a week. Under the old rule, truck drivers could work on average up to 82 hours within a seven-day period, now they are limited to 70 hours. In addition, truck drivers cannot drive after working eight hours without first taking a break of at least 30 minutes. Drivers can take the 30-minute break whenever they need rest during the eight-hour window.

“This final rule is the culmination of the most extensive and transparent public outreach effort in our agency’s history,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “With robust input from all areas of the trucking community, coupled with the latest scientific research, we carefully crafted a rule acknowledging that when truckers are rested, alert and focused on safety, it makes our roadways safer.”

The current 11-hour daily driving limit was not changed in the new provision. This provision is particularly controversial as many safety advocates argue this is too long for safe operation of large vehicles. Safety advocates are pushing the FMCSA to drop the hours back to 10 hours, the limit that was in place until a change in 2003. The FMCSA said it will continue to conduct data analysis and research to further examine any risks associated with the 11 hours of driving time.

The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety do not believe the changes go far enough to save lives on U.S. roads, and are leading an effort to push the FMCSA to reduce the daily driving limit to 10 hours. In a press release, Henry Jasny, Vice President and General Counsel of Advocates, said, “By keeping the unsafe portion of the rule that permits truckers to drive for 11 consecutive hours, Department officials have broken their promise to make safety their number one priority.”

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports nearly 3,500 people were killed and another 63,000 were injured in large truck and bus accidents in the U.S. in 2009. In New York, 120 lives were lost in accidents involving tractor-trailers or other large trucks in 2010.

Our Binghamton truck accident attorneys want to remind all drivers in-and-around Binghamton to be focused and drive defensively around large trucks. The attorneys at our law firm support the governments continued efforts to monitor the trucking industry, and to improve the safety of all drivers on New York highways.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today

Scott C. Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney, is a Binghamton accident and injury law firm that handles all types of personal injury and motor vehicle accident cases, including cases involving drunk-driving accidents, wrongful death, cancer misdiagnosis, dog bites, hunting accidents, birth injuries, brain injuries, construction accidents, fall-down injuries and insurance settlements. The firm regularly employs accident reconstruction experts, investigators, photographers and economists to assist in evaluating and preparing personal injury cases.

For more information, call (800) TALK-LAW or use the firm’s online contact form.

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