New rules seek to reduce truck driver fatigue and save lives

The enforcement of new rules designed to ease truck driver fatigue has recently begun, and it is hoped that these rules will help decrease the occurrence of truck accidents and subsequent fatalities. By reducing the instances of truck accidents, it is estimated that commercial vehicle accidents in Alabama, as well as across the United States, will be less frequent and that nearly 20 lives may be spared per year.

The rules contain three main provisions. Commercial drivers must take a break for at least 30 minutes during the first eight hours of driving. Drivers are also required to take periodic 34-hour 'restarts," which are comprised of time completely away from the road. Drivers are also required to take two breaks between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

In addition to the three provisions cited above, the total drive-time for commercial drivers has been reduced to 70 hours weekly. It is hoped that these rules will drastically reduce the number of motor vehicle accidents that involve commercial vehicles, which numbered between 3,000 and 4,000 last year. Of those accidents, approximately 13 percent resulted in fatalities.

These rules are a victory for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, an agency that is concerned with maximizing safety for drivers, both commercial and private. It is also a victory for the families of those who have lost their lives, or quality of their lives, due to involvement in a truck accident that was caused by driver fatigue. Many of these families have found that seeking the advice and services of an attorney who is experienced in matters involving truck accidents is a wise move. Personal injury attorneys who know and understand the rules concerning commercial drivers are often more likely to secure maximum compensation for their clients.

Source: NPR, "New Rules Put Brakes On Truck Drivers' Schedules", June 30, 2013

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