Policymakers with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have puzzled for years over how to make the roads safer for commercial vehicle traffic and passenger cars alike. Regulations involving weight restrictions, minimum rest breaks, limitations on the use of electronic devices behind the wheel of commercial vehicles, more stringent DWI/DUI enforcement and health screenings are all designed to ensure that the people put in charge of commercial trucks, vans and buses have the training and skill necessary.
Among other safety initiatives, the FMCSA has been both praised and lauded for its stance on the creation of federal hours-of-service (HOS) regulations for commercial truckers.
HOS regulations are rules limiting the time that commercial drivers can spend behind the wheel of their vehicles. The regulations are designed to ensure that drivers tasked with operating large commercial vehicles get the rest they need in order to stay safe and secure.
HOS rules have garnered more support in recent years in light of studies performed by the FMCSA, USDOT and other agencies which indicated that driving while fatigued is as dangerous – possibly even more dangerous – than driving while intoxicated. So-called drowsy driving is actually one of the leading causes of trucking accidents.
With that being said, though, and with all commercial carriers being required by law to know the FMCSA regulations requiring adequate rest, and be well aware of the dangers of operating a commercial vehicle without being alert, many trucking companies still ignore the signs of truck drivers who “fudge” their logbook records and drive over their maximum weekly allotment. Many commercial freight carriers pay drivers per miles driven, and not per hours worked, so the economic incentive is for trucking companies to push the drivers to log as many miles as possible.
When truck drivers are fatigued and complain, trucking companies are known to limit the number of loads assigned to them, which ultimately hurts the drivers’ right where it hurts, in the wallet. Drivers are forced to drive fatigued in order to keep up with the demands placed on them by freight carriers. Unfortunately, though, if drivers are fatigued, they make mistakes. When mistakes are made in a fully loaded, multi-ton, tractor-trailer 20 times heavier than other passenger vehicles on the road, innocent people can be hurt or killed. If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, seek the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney in your area to learn more about your legal rights and options.
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