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New Regulations Seek to Reduce Fatigued Truck Driver Accidents

Craig McClellan

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the federal highway safety regulator Department of Transportation, recently released final regulations regarding commercial truck drivers hours of service (HOS).

Under the new HOS rules, the maximum hours a trucker can drive in a given week is reduced from 82 to 70. The goal of the new regulations is to decrease the number of fatigued truck drivers on the road, and thus the number of commercial vehicle accidents.

The regulations also require truck drivers to rest 30 minutes out of every eight hours of driving, and maintain a struck 11-hour daily driving limit. Trucking companies and commercial drivers that violate the rules will be steeply penalized.

But the commercial trucking industry does not believe that these regulations will actually increase roadway safety. In fact, the American Trucking Association (ATA) recently filed a petition with the Federal Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. asking the court to review the final regulations.

The petition argues that the FMCSA's new regulations relied on faulty research and assumptions about driver fatigue and road safety. The ATA believes that the HOS rules that were enacted in 2004 (which included an 11-hour daily limit) were enough to help target driver fatigue and improve motorist safety. Additionally, the ATA's petition notes it could be very costly for businesses to comply with these new regulations.

But safety advocates believe that even these new regulations aren't enough. In 2010, fatalities in large truck accidents rose by 9 percent, according to Department of Transportation statistics. Most of these deaths were people in passenger cars. Statistics suggest that truck driver fatigue was a factor in a number of these fatal motor vehicle accidents.

The rules are scheduled to go into full effect in July 2013.

Source: Insurance Journal, " Trucking Industry Fights Obama Rules on Driver Fatigue," 2/15/12