Pennsylvania Truck Accident Lawyer says New Federal Rules Not Enough to Fight Fatigued Driving

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Attorney Daniel W. Munley of Munley, Munley & Cartwright, P.C., says commercial truck drivers need more rest between work periods in order to prevent fatigue-related accidents, injuries and deaths.

Pennsylvania truck accident attorney, PA tractor-trailer wreck lawyer, Pennsylvania accident and injury law firm, personal injury, wrongful death, lawsuit, fatigued driving

Pennsylvania attorney Daniel W. Munley

While the FMCSA does reduce a commercial motor vehicle driver’s maximum workweek by 12 hours, the new rules allow drivers to get back on the road too quickly after working what is still up to 70 hours in a single week.

Pennsylvania truck accident lawyer Daniel W. Munley, chairman of the American Association of Justice’s Trucking Litigation Group, said new hours-of-service regulations for tractor-trailer drivers are not as stringent as necessary to significantly reduce fatigued driving on the nation’s roads.

“The new hours-of-service rules put forward by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration simply do not go far enough,” said Munley, an attorney with the regional personal injury law firm of Munley, Munley & Cartwright, P.C., who focuses on tractor-trailer accident litigation.

“While the FMCSA does reduce a commercial motor vehicle driver’s maximum workweek by 12 hours, the new rules allow drivers to get back on the road too quickly after working what is still up to 70 hours in a single week,” Munley said. “This rest period is too short. Long-haul drivers will remain fatigued as they get back to work.”

The FMCSA released new hours-of-service safety requirements for commercial truck drivers in late December after a series of public hearings. The rules limit a driver's work week to 70 hours, which is reduced from an 82-hour cap under the old rule.

Among other provisions of the new commercial trucking rules, drivers are allowed to “restart the clock on their work week” by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off duty.

The American Association for Justice, in commentary submitted to the federal agency last March, proposed a 48-hour restart requirement and a 10-hour daily limit.

The FMCSA’s new rules go into effect July 1, 2013.

“Through my work with the AAJ’s Trucking Litigation Group, and in our investigations at Munley, Munley & Cartwright, I’ve seen the devastation of 18-wheeler accidents, too many of which are attributable to fatigued driving,” Munley said.

Munley, Munley & Cartwright has won millions of dollars in compensation for victims of trucking accidents and other commercial motor vehicle wrecks across Pennsylvania, New York and the Northeast, including many cases in which driver fatigue was ruled to have been a factor, Munley pointed out.

Violations of the FMCSA’s hours-of-service regulations can often establish an award of punitive damages, Munley said.

“In Pennsylvania, for instance, a jury can award punitive damages when a truck driver’s conduct was clearly outrageous, committed while in the scope of their employment and with the intent to further their employer’s interests,” Munley said. “A reckless disregard for rules that are aimed at preventing fatigued driving would appear to fall into this category.”

“Our main objective is safety,” Munley added. “When a truck driver or a trucking company acts with such recklessness as to put a fatigued driver back on the road, we will stand with the injured party to protect their rights to be made whole, as much as possible, through a court’s judgment, if that’s what’s necessary.”

About Munley, Munley & Cartwright, P.C.

Munley, Munley & Cartwright, P.C., is a Pennsylvania truck accident law firm that represents tractor-trailer accident victims throughout the Northeast, including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. The firm has an extensive record of successful verdicts and settlements, and its truck accident attorneys have been nationally recognized for their expertise in state and federal trucking regulations. To learn more about the firm’s truck accident litigation team, call (800) 318-LAW1 or use its online contact form.

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