According to the United States Congress, a 70-hour work week for truck drivers apparently isn’t long enough. As BloombergBusiness is reporting, late last year the U.S. Congress suspended a federal regulation that required a trucker to get two nights of sleep before beginning a long-haul work week and increased the legal weekly driving limits.
By loosening the regulations, Congress ignored the recommendations of the Department of Transportation and consumer advocate groups. As a result of this change, drivers may now work as many as 82 hours over an eight day period.
So-called hours-of-service rules were enacted years ago in an attempt to keep tired truckers off the road. In 2003, the Department of Transportation made the rules even stricter, limiting drivers to 14-hour stretches followed by a long break. In 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted rules that lowered the permissible number of driving hours from 82 to 70 per week. Additionally, every seven days drivers were required to take a 34-hour rest that included two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Now Congress has changed the rules.
Acts of Congress
Congress has suspended the requirement that the 34-hour rest include two early morning breaks. Congress has raised the total number of driving hours allowed per week from 70 back to 82. These changes were added to budget legislation that funds the U.S. government through the fiscal year.
The changes have nothing to do with the fiscal budget and everything to do with influential special interest groups. Some businesses rely on truckers to move their products across the nation. The more hours a trucker can drive, the better for business.
Trucking Accidents Nationwide
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, 525 truckers died last year while at work. This number is higher than any other occupation in the country. Overtired truckers were a factor in accidents that killed almost 4,000 Americans last year and caused countless personal injuries across the nation.
Studies show that the 2013 hours-of-service regulations were expected to prevent 1,400 truck crashes a year, save 19 lives and avoid 560 injuries. With a single vote, Congress has put an end to this safety measure.
Barbara Phillips, a medical professor at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, sat on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Medical Review Board from 2006 to 2010. According to Ms. Phillips, fatigue and sleep deprivation contribute to crashes for all types of drivers. Driving performance begins to decline as early as 4 hours into a long drive. After 10 hours, a driver’s performance is severely impaired. Impaired reaction time and weariness can cause a driver to delay hitting the brakes as quickly as usual, resulting in accidents. These accidents can be particularly deadly when the driver is hauling a few thousand tons.
Let Our Attorneys Help You
If you suffered personal injuries in Maine as a result of a car or trucking accident, contact the Law Offices of Fales & Fales, P.A. today. One of our experienced Maine attorneys will investigate and help you to achieve a fair and equitable verdict or settlement.