The U.S. Department of Transportation is looking to ease restrictions on the number of hours that truck drivers can work in a workday. Taking its lead from a Trump administration that has a close relationship with the trucking industry, the governing Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) would make it legal for truck drivers to drive longer than the mandated 11 hours after ten consecutive hours off duty. There is also a call to eliminate a 30-minute rest period if a driver is on duty for eight straight hours.
Safety advocates and critics see this new loosening of regulations as a severe blow to the safety of the roads, particularly highways. They point out that there are dangerous trends involving truckers working longer shifts because fatigue is the major cause of crashes even at current levels, and changes will likely lead to higher numbers of fatalities and injuries.
Disturbing trends in truck safety
Numbers from the FMCSA that jump out include:
- There were 4,657 large trucks involved in fatal crashes in 2017 (the most recent year with final data).
- This number is a 10% jump from the previous year.
- Sixty drivers in these accidents were determined to be asleep or sleep deprived, although this type of impairment is underreported by law enforcement.
Truck crashes are often lethal
Regardless of law changes, it is a fact that motor vehicle crashes involving semi-trucks often include serious injuries or even fatalities of drivers and passengers in cars or SUVs that are nowhere close to the size of these trucks.
Trucking firms keep lawyers on staff to handle these accidents, so victims and their families are advised to seek a knowledgeable personal injury attorney with experience handling truck crashes. These legal professionals can help victims get the compensation they deserve, including money for lost income, additional medical expenses and property damage.