New Rules Proposed for Commercial Truck Drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding commercial truck driver hours of service on December 29, 2010.  The stated purpose of the rule is to “promote safety and protect driver health” and to “reduce safety and health risks associated with long hours.”  The proposed rule would make seven changes from current requirements, which are designed to make sure drivers get enough rest and keep fatigued commercial drivers off the road.

Fatigue for truck drivers is a very serious problem.  In the Driver Fatigue and Alertness Study, it was found that fatigue leads to:

  • increased lapses of attention;
  • slower information-processing and decision making;
  • longer reaction time to critical events;
  • more variable and less effective control responses;
  • decreased motivation to sustain performance;
  • increased subjective feelings of drowsiness;
  • decreased watchfulness;
  • and decreased alertness to danger (Wylie, et al., 1997).

These problems have the potential to cause deadly collisions. Research has found that driving while drowsy increased an individual’s crash risk by four to six times (Klauer, et al., 2006).

For the past ten years, I have handled a large number of cases where driver fatigue caused severe motor vehicle collisions. Many commercial trucking companies do not have the procedures in place to reduce the likelihood of driver fatigue and prevent violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. 

Public Citizen, and other advocates for highway and public safety, support the new rules.  The proposed rules are a step in the right direction.  I will continue to push for safer roadways by holding trucking companies accountable for violating laws designed to keep fatigued drivers off the roadway.  If you have any further questions relating to this matter, contact Boyd B. Newton PC  at (404) 593-2630 or by e-mail at boyd@boydnewtonlaw.com.

Source: Public Citizen

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