It has always been understood that trucking is a dangerous industry. Until recently, many drivers spent exhausting, long days on the road, often driving through hazardous conditions with little or no sleep.
These drivers were pushed to work long hours by employers who often threatened to withhold pay if drivers put their own needs and the safety of others before a deadline. It was only within the last year or two that changes really started happening.
Thanks to recently passed federal legislation, truck drivers nationwide cannot drive more than 11 hours per day and must have at least a 10 hour off-duty rest period between each 11 hour shift. All driving and off-duty time is recorded in an ELD (Electronic Logging Device), which is now required on all trucks.
While these changes received acclaim within the industry, the burden of regulating the hours and working within the constraints falls solely on the drivers. Instead of facing consequences for not meeting a deadline, drivers were penalized any time the mandated Hours of Service (HOS) regulations were not followed, regardless of the reason why.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is hoping to address this ever-evolving problem. They recently posted a public notice detailing changes they hope to make regarding these Hours of Service rules that truck drivers must follow.
These new regulations will allow drivers to add up to 2 hours of driving per day in the event of adverse driving conditions. These conditions include heavy rain, snow, or unforeseen traffic conditions. Drivers will also be permitted to split their mandatory 10 hour off-duty rest breaks, should they choose to do so, into minimum 3 hour sections.
While these regulations have recently made Texas roads safer for passenger vehicle drivers, more can be done to mitigate the pressure placed on commercial vehicle drivers. Overall, this can reduce the likelihood of driver burnout and fatigue. However, it remains to be seen whether the trucking industry, which has a checkered safety record at best, will actually abide by these restrictions.
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident involving a commercial truck in Texas, contact our offices today. Our highly skilled truck accident lawyers want to hear from you. We can offer you a, free consultation regarding your case.