New federal regulations may not be enough to eliminate trucker fatigue

An attempt to increase the safety of the nation's roadways is receiving criticism from the commercial trucking industry. Forbes and The Wall Street Journal recently ran articles addressing the issue, with interviews of a number of leaders in the commercial truck driving business as well as those who operate the vehicles. Both claim new regulations put in place by the Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are not reducing truck driver fatigue.

Instead, the truckers argue the new regulations have cut down on their productivity. The FMCSA counters the truckers' argument with figures estimating the savings from reduced accidents. The agency's research finds roughly $280 million will be saved as a result of fewer car crashes and an additional $470 million will be saved from improved driver health.

More on the regulations

The rules causing the debate went into effect July 1, 2013. They were designed by the agency with the intention of reducing the risk of truck driver fatigue, a common cause of truck accidents. Key changes included in the regulations were a reduction in the maximum allowable work week from 82 hours to 70 hours and a requirement that drivers take a 30 minute break at some point during the first eight-hour shift.

These rules were accompanied with serious penalties. Violations can result in the following:

  • Company citation. Companies that allow drivers to violate these regulations can receive a monetary fine of $11,000 per violation.
  • Driver citation. Individual drivers can also receive an additional penalty of $2,750 per violation.
  • Potential lawsuit. A violation that leads to an accident could serve as evidence of negligence in a case against the driver or trucking company.

According to their research, legislators added these regulations could eliminate 1,400 crashes, translating to 19 lives saved and 560 injuries avoided every year.

Tips for those injured due to driver fatigue

Whether an accident resulted from a driver not following these regulations or another factor contributed to the crash, it is important to be aware that compensation may be available to help cover the cost of medical and rehabilitative expenses. Depending on the details of the accident, the trucker or even the trucking company may be held responsible for the cost of injuries.

If you are injured, contact an experienced trucking accident lawyer to discuss your situation and better ensure your legal rights and any potential remedies are protected.