New hours of service rules may not prevent driver fatigue

New hours of service rules may not prevent driver fatigue

| Sep 21, 2020 | Firm News

Big rigs roar across Texas by the thousands every day, from the TEXpress and the Lyndon B Johnson Freeway to the Turnpike and Route 80. The trucking industry is a vital part of a thriving economy, carrying everything from medical supplies to produce. Truck drivers get paid by the mile, which means many will drive long shifts, becoming fatigued while behind the wheel. We often represent clients who have devastating injuries as a result of truck driver negligence.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations include guidelines for the amount of time truckers may drive in a given timeframe. According to Overdrive, the updated hours of service regulations go into effect on September 29, 2020. Meant to increase driver flexibility, it also allows them to spend more time behind the wheel.

Dangers of driver fatigue

Long hours of driving, inadequate or poor sleep quality and physical and mental exertion can result in truck driver fatigue. This can reduce vision quality, increase reaction time and adversely affect judgment and coordination. When driving fatigued, drivers may forget to check blind spots before changing lanes, crashing into vehicles driving next to them. It can also result in a truck veering into oncoming traffic, causing devastating head-on collisions.

Hours of service revisions

Under the new rules, drivers can split the required 10-hour off duty time into longer segments than the previous regulations allowed. These splits enable drivers to pause the 14-hour on-duty clock by taking a break of at least two hours mid-shift. A 30-minute break no longer means off-duty in the logbook. It’s an on-duty, not-driving status.

Another significant change is the short-haul exception. It extends the on-duty shift from 12 to 14 hours and extends the distance the driver may operate from 100 miles to 150 miles. If you were in a crash with a driver who falsified logbook entries or violated regulations, you might have grounds for a claim.