Columbia, SC (PRWEB) June 28, 2013
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has revised the hours-of-service (HOS) safety requirements for commercial truck drivers (http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/administration/rulemakings/final/HOS-Final-Rule-12-27-11.pdf). Columbia personal injury attorney Bert Louthian says the new rules, which take effect July 1, 2013, will make the roadways safer by limiting the number of hours a fatigued driver can stay behind the wheel or on duty.
HOS rules have been in place since 1939 and went virtually unchanged for more than 60 years. The latest version is the most stringent yet, requiring a driver to take at least a 30-minute break every 8 consecutive hours. Drivers are allowed to drive 11 hours within a period of 14 consecutive hours, but after 11 hours of driving, the driver must be off duty for 10 consecutive hours before again taking the wheel.
There is also a new “weekly” limit. Under the old rule, truck drivers could work on average up to 82 hours within a seven-day period. Beginning July 1, total on-duty time is limited to 60 hours in each 7-day period or 70 hours in 8 days, with the new “week” beginning after the driver has 34 consecutive off-duty hours. This is known as the 34-hour restart. Importantly, the restart period must include at least two off-duty periods between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.
FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro said in a press release, “With robust input from all areas of the trucking community, coupled with the latest scientific research, we carefully crafted a rule acknowledging that when truckers are rested, alert and focused on safety, it makes our roadways safer.” (http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/topics/hos/statement.aspx)
Statistics from the National Transportation Safety Board show that driver error is the leading cause of large truck accidents. In fact, the agency found that fatigue alone was responsible for up to 40 percent of all truck accidents. “As a truck accident lawyer,” Louthian said, “I know how catastrophic the injuries can be when a passenger vehicle is struck by an 18-wheeler. Drowsy driving is dangerous for anyone, but when an 80,000-pound truck is barreling down the highway under the control of a sleepy driver who is trying to meet a delivery deadline, the hazard is especially alarming.”
Trucking companies say the new HOS limits are unnecessarily burdensome and will increase the cost of transporting goods. But the penalties attached for noncompliance are stiff: Trucking companies that allow drivers to exceed the 11-hour driving limit by 3 or more hours could be fined $11,000 per offense, and the drivers themselves could face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense.
About The Louthian Law Firm
The Louthian Law Firm, P.A., of Columbia, S.C., has been obtaining fair compensation for its clients since 1959. The firm was founded by Herbert Louthian, who has more than 50 years of trial experience and is licensed to practice in all courts in South Carolina. The firm’s office is located in the Marlboro Building, Suite 300, 1116 Blanding Street, Columbia, SC 29201 (local phone (803) 454-1200). For a free, confidential case evaluation, contact the firm by phone at (866) 410-5656 or through its online contact form.