The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is tasked with regulating commercial truck drivers to try to keep the roads safe. Among the many regulations that FMCSA has passed include limitations on the number of hours truckers can drive over the course of both a day and a week.
FMCSA revised rules went into effect last year imposing tougher restrictions to try to fight the dangers of fatigued driving. Truckers must take a 34 hour rest break, or reset period, after they have driven either 60 hours over seven days or 70 hours over a period of eight days. The rest break must include two periods of time between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.
Trucking groups have objected to the new rules, and especially the requirement that the rest break include two overnights. Some have argued that the rules are too restrictive and end up forcing truck drivers to be on the road during peak times. Yet, safety advocates argue that the rules are necessary to prevent collisions involving fatigued truckers.
Driver fatigue can be just as dangerous as driving while impaired, and a driver who has been awake for 24 hours has an equivalent level of impairment as someone with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .10. Those who are injured in a collision caused by a fatigued driver should consult with truck accident lawyers in Columbus, OH at the Law Offices of Scott Elliot Smith for help taking legal action.
Congress Considers a Change to Hours of Service Rules
Congress recently considered making a change to the FMCSA Hours of Service rules that would suspend the 34-hour rest period requirement. The Senate Appropriations Committee passed an amendment to this effect at the urging of Senator Susan Collins from Maine. The full Senate will need to adopt the amendment and it will need to be reconciled with appropriations legislation from the House before the amendment would take effect.
In response to the Committee's actions, a spokesperson from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration admonished Congress, according to the Huffington Post. The FMCSA administrator said that the agency had "carefully considered the public safety and health risks of long work hours," before making the change to the rules. She also indicated that: "suspending the current Hours-of-Service safety rules will expose families and drivers to great risk every time they're on the road."
The issue got more attention just days after the Senate acted when a fatigued driving collision injured Tracy Morgan, a comedian famous for his roles on "Saturday Night Live" and "30 Rock." The comedian was hurt when his limo bus was hit by a truck driver who had reportedly been awake for more than 24 hours at the time when the collision occurred. The trucker faces criminal charges, but the accident not only critically injured Morgan but also caused the death of another comedian.
Clearly, it is a matter of public safety to prevent fatigued truck drivers from causing collisions. Congress should not act to weaken safety rules that are designed to save motorist's lives.
Contact our Columbus, OH accident lawyers today. Call 1-800-930-SCOTT or visit http://www.sestriallaw.com for a free case consultation.