Carolina Trucking Accidents and HOS Rules
New hours-of-service rules set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have now been in affect for around three months and the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) recently conducted a study of its truck-driving members to get an idea about how the regulations were affecting them. The regulations are designed to reduce drowsy driving crashes involving truck drivers so that motorists can be safer on the roads.
Fatigued trucker accident lawyers in North Carolina that the OOIDA has been a vocal opponent of the hours-of-service rule changes since the rules were first proposed. In fact, many professional trucking associations have spoken out against the new rules, and a court challenge was even mounted to question the rule-making process. With so much opposition among trucking professionals, it comes as no surprise that the survey showed that drivers are dissatisfied with the impact of the new rules on their working lives.
New Hours of Service Rules Leading to Dissatisfied Drivers
The OOIDA survey asked drivers about several of the key provisions associated with the new rules. One of those provisions is that the rules require a 30 minute rest break for long-haul truckers within the first eight hours of driving. Another institutes tougher limits on the number of hours a trucker can drive per week. Drivers are now restricted to 60 hours in a seven-day period or 70 hours in an eight-day period, after which time they have to take 34 hours off. This 34 hour time off must include two periods of time between the hours of 1:00 and 5:00 a.m.
As Landline Magazine reports, the OOIDA truckers, overall, said that these new rules were affecting their flexibility, sometimes making them more tired, and were not helping to improve safety. The truckers also claim that these new regulations were causing a host of problems that the FMCSA did not foresee. For example:
- 53 percent of truckers said that the regulations had no impact on their level of fatigue.
- 46 percent of truckers said they were actually more tired because of the requirements of the new rules than they were before the rules went into effect.
- The majority of drivers said the 30 minute rest break was a big problem because it is hard for truckers to find a place to pull off the road and rest. This, in turn, means that the break takes them longer because they have to find a place to take the 30 minute break. Some drivers said that they end up speeding or driving faster to compensate for the wasted time.
- Most OOIDA members did not use the 30 minute rest break to sleep, but instead just wasted time sitting in their truck and waiting for the time to be over.
- Drivers said that the requirement they rest for 34 hours before restarting their work was difficult to comply with and forced them to take more time off in order to meet the 1:00 am to 5:00 am rules. Overnight drivers were the most critical of this rule, and they claimed that it wasn't helping them to be more rested.
While these responses indicate that the rules may not be working as well as intended, the responses also come from a group with a strong agenda to work against the FMCSA rules. Only time (and accident data) will tell whether driver fatigue accidents actually are reduced by the FMCSA's effort.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, call today at 1-800-FLEXNER for your free legal consultation.