What Are the New Hours of Service Rules for Truck Drivers?

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Hours of Service regulations govern the length of time commercial drivers can operate their vehicles without stopping to take a rest. These rules are issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and therefore apply to drivers in Indiana and elsewhere in the country. Our Indianapolis truck accident attorneys see this all the time.

A new HOS Final Rule comes into effect on September 29, 2020 and the FMCSA says the changes will improve road safety and strengthen the motor carrier industry. The rules were devised based on input from the industry. They still prohibit commercial motor vehicle drivers from driving for more than eight hours without a break for at least thirty minutes. However, there are four main revisions. These are:

1. Amending the sleeper berth exception to permit drivers to fulfill the ten-hour off-duty requirement by spending a minimum of seven hours in the berth and at least two hours inside or outside the berth. The two periods must add up to a minimum of 10 hours. Neither period will count against the allowed 14 hours of driving per shift.

2. Requiring a break of 30 minutes after eight hours of driving time instead of eight hours of on-duty time and permitting “on-duty/not driving” status to qualify as a break.

3. Extending the adverse driving conditions exception by two hours.

4. Expanding the short-haul exception to 150 air miles and allowing a 14-hour work shift to take place as part of the exception.

The Issue of Fatigue in The Trucking Industry

The hours that long-haul drivers spend behind the wheel has long been of concern. Not only are they operating massive vehicles for extended periods but they need to remain alert given the unpredictability of the nation’s highways. Truckers can suffer from fatigue, sleep deprivation, and disruption of the normal rest cycle.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, drivers who spend more than eight hours behind the wheel are twice as likely to get involved in an accident. Furthermore, those who have HOS violations against their name were more likely to indicate that they had drifted off to sleep while driving during the previous month. If a driver crashes into you because they were breaking federal laws, they must be held accountable. An Indiana truck accident lawyer can help you to recover your losses.

A semi-truck that’s carrying cargo can legally weigh as much as 80,000 but the average passenger car weighs only around 4,000 pounds. If a driver falls asleep while traveling along the interstate, the results can be catastrophic. Even if the trucker stays awake, fatigue can slow their reaction time and significantly impair their ability to drive safely.

The FMCSA estimates that 13 percent of commercial drivers involved in truck accidents were deemed to be fatigued at the time. If you were involved in an accident involving a truck, you need to consider the possibility that the driver was fatigued or drowsy. Despite the rules, drivers sometimes drive for longer than they should.

Sometimes, they push themselves because they want to make more money. Other times, they’re under pressure from their employers. Some just want to get home to their families. Regardless of the reason why a driver is operating a massive truck while fatigued, you’re entitled to compensation if they cause you harm. Since truck accidents usually result in serious injuries and extensive property damage, you’ll need all the help you can get.

Contact the Attorneys at Stewart|Phelps|Wood Today

Driver fatigue is just one of the things that could contribute to a truck accident. Speeding, intoxication, poor training, and inadequately maintained trucks can all play a role. That’s why you should contact a truck accident lawyer in Indiana immediately after your crash so they can begin to investigate.

Sometimes multiple parties may be responsible for an accident and you need to know exactly who you should be pursuing for compensation. You won’t be able to probe the crash on your own so you should seek help from an experienced attorney. If necessary, your lawyer will retain the services of an accident reconstruction specialist to get to the bottom of the incident.

Call us today to schedule a free consultation so we can provide you with advice regarding your case. If you wait too long, it will become more and more difficult to collect the necessary evidence and you may not be able to get the compensation you deserve. Let the team at Stewart|Phelps|Wood help you to get your life back on track.

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