Tennessee Trucking Accidents and HOS Rule Changes

Drowsy driving accidents can happen to any driver, but are especially deadly when a truck driver is involved. Unfortunately, trucker shortages have caused many professional truckers to be overworked and have caused some trucking companies to place a lot of pressure on their drivers to make deliveries within a short period of time. This creates an accident risk for people in Johnson City and throughout the Tri-Cities.

Truck accident lawyers in Johnson City know that a trucker who is overtired is likely to make dangerous or even deadly mistakes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) establishes rules for professional truck drivers and instituted a change to the hours-of-service limitations in order to try to reduce the risk of drowsy driving accidents by fatigued drivers. Professional trucking groups including the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) have spoken out against these rules and have even gone to court to try to argue that the FMCSA didn’t follow the proper process in setting the new limitations.

While the rules have been in effect for just three months, truckers who are members of these professional organizations are already speaking out and saying that the rules are causing problems in practice. Considering the opinions of these truckers is important, but it will also be important to observe crash rates over time in order to get an accurate picture of whether the FMCSA hours-of-service rules actually result in truckers being better rested, and thus safer on the roads.

Many Truckers Say Rules Not Reducing Fatigue

According to Landline Magazine, the OOIDA surveyed its members about several key issues related to the hours of service rules. A total of 53 percent of truckers responding to the survey said that the new limitations had no impact on their level of fatigue, while 46 percent of truckers said that the FMCSA rules actually made things worse and resulted in them being more tired.

Two provisions that were of special concern to truckers included a requirement that drivers take a 30 minute rest break within the first eight hours of driving; and a requirement that drivers take a 34-hour rest break after driving a total of 60 hours in seven days or 70 hours in eight days. The OOIDA asked drivers to weigh in on these two topics, and most said that these rules were causing problems.

The majority of drivers reported that they didn’t actually rest during their 30 minute rest break but that they instead just parked their vehicles and waited for their break to end. Parking the vehicles, however, presents a huge challenge for many truckers because there is limited truck parking available in many places. As a result, some truckers said they had to waste time finding a place to take this break and thus lost as much as an hour of actual productive drive time. Overnight truckers were the OOIDA members most likely to have a problem with the 30-minute rule.

The 34-hour break period was also a problem, in large part because the rule mandates that the driver include at least two periods between the hours of 1:00 and 5:00 am in this 34-hour time span. Drivers said this rule impeded flexibility and productivity, while not making them any less tired.

Of course, there are a lot of reasons for truckers to be against these new rules, since stricter limits on their driving time could affect income. It will be important to monitor the real-world effects of the new FMCSA rules in determining whether the rules were effective at reducing drowsy driving crashes.

If you are in a truck accident in Johnson City or in the Tri-Cities, contact Meade Injury Law Group today at (423) 464-7779for a free case consultation