For a while now, the trucking industry has been pushing for a continuation of the current Hours of Service for truck drivers, which currently allows drivers to operate a rig for 11 consecutive hours. The reasoning is that these work hours have contributed to a decline in the number of people being killed in truck accident deaths every year. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has shot down that argument. According to the federal agency chief, estimates of trucking accident fatalities across the country show a possible increase in deaths in these accidents in 2010.
According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Chief Anne Ferro, the number of people killed in truck accidents in 2010 was close to 4,000. That was an increase from 3,360 fatalities in 2009. This information emerged at a hearing on the Hours of Service rule that is currently pending with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The federal agency should have finalized a new Hours of Service rule last month, but missed a deadline to do so.
However, the number of truck accidents declined in 2010. The trucking industry is likely to pounce on this fact as proof that safety has increased since the Hours of Service were increased to 11 hours, from the earlier 10.
The trucking industry is lobbying strongly for a continuation of the current Hours of Service rules for truckers. Lawmakers unfortunately are getting taken in by the trucking industry’s reasoning. Some lawmakers at the hearing spoke of the current trucking Hours of Service rules as working perfectly well, without any need for modifications.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has already indicated that it is leaning toward a reduction in the number of driving hours from 11 hours to 10 hours a day. It is also in favor of giving truck drivers an hour-long break during the day by restricting actual duty time to 13 hours in a 14-hour driving window. However, these changes are strongly opposed by the trucking and shipping industries, which allege that the rules will do nothing to improve trucking safety, and will increase the financial burden on trucking companies. Much of the opposition has to do with the fact that the trucking industry is expected to lose up to $2 billion a year if truck drivers’ maximum number of working hours are lowered to 10.
Trucking safety advocates who also spoke before the hearing pointed to the increasing role of driver fatigue in truck-related accidents. This is a serious problem that continues to place truck drivers as well as passengers and motorists at risk of death or serious injuries in truck accidents.
No one can absolutely guarantee that a trucker will get the rest and sleep that he needs, and will never doze off of at the wheel. However, lower working hours would encourage truckers to get the rest that they need in order to drive safely.
The Indiana truck accident lawyers at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson and Kennedy are dedicated to the representation of persons who have been injured, or families of persons who have been killed in truck accidents across Indiana.