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Hours-of-Service Regulations Lifted for Truck Drivers Amidst Pandemic

One of the most controversial issues in the trucking industry is fatigued drivers. Fatigue is a serious safety issue for truck drivers and those traveling on the road around them.

To help with this issue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enacted a regulation mandating that the truck “hours of service” not exceed 11 hours after the trucker has spent 10 consecutive hours off duty and drivers cannot drive past the 14th hour after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Further, drivers cannot drive beyond 60 hours in seven days or 70 hours in eight days. Under this regulation, a restart is allowed only after being off duty for at least 34 consecutive hours.

In response to COVID-19, the FMCSA has temporarily lifted hours-of-service regulations for truck drivers transporting emergency supplies and relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the first time in history that the hours-of-service regulations have been suspended on a national scale. The national emergency declaration can be read here. In summary, what it says is that as long as the trucker is delivering necessary supplies, these truck drivers no longer need to stop driving after 11 consecutive hours during a 14 hour day.

What Does This Mean for Motorist Safety?

The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and has required changes in many industries. While the goal of the Emergency Declaration is to timely delivery immediate needs, there is a question of whether it puts the American motorist in danger. Fatigue and drowsy driving is said to be a contributing factor in as many as 30-40% of all commercial truck accidents.

Keller & Keller Has Experience with Fatigued Trucker Cases

At Keller & Keller, we are proud to take a stand against negligent truck drivers and fight hard against trucking companies. Keller & Keller was proud to represent the family of a 30 year old man who was driving to work when he was killed by a commercial truck that came across the centerline and struck his vehicle head on. Among other things, we were able to prove that the truck driver was fatigued which impacted his ability to drive safely. At $48.5 million, it was one of the largest pre-trial settlements in the State of New Mexico.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident, call Keller & Keller today. Our consultations are free and you don’t pay us anything until we win your case.

For more information about why truck accident cases are different, download our book 10 Critical Questions You Need Answered Before You Sign Anything After a Truck Accident.

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Why are semi-trucks so dangerous?

Drowsy Truck Driver Statistics

  • Studies have shown that being awake for a long period of time (18 hours) will leave a driver with the motor reflexes of someone who has a BAC level of 0.08%, putting them at equal risk of crashing.
  • Commercial trucks account for a small percentage of registered vehicles on our roadways, yet account for an alarming number of passenger vehicle accidents that involve death. (According to a 1999 report by the NHTSA, large trucks accounted for 3% of the registered vehicles on our highways, however, they were responsible for 13% of passenger vehicle deaths.)
  • Fatigue and drowsy driving is said to be a contributing factor in as many as 30-40% of all commercial truck accidents.
  • A 1995 National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) study found that of 107 heavy truck crashes, fatigue was a prominent factor in 75% of the run-off-the-road crashes, with 68% of long-haul drivers and 49% of short haul drivers suffering fatigue-related crashes.
  • A commerical truck driver who skips mandated rest breaks and sleep, greatly increases the likelihood of their being involved in an accident due to drowsiness. Additionally, a truck driver's ability to gain proper restorative sleep is affected even if they try to "catch up" on sleep when they have a day off.
  • Australian research and on-site investigations over the last several years have determined that, overall, one crash in every five among truck drivers is due to falling asleep at the wheel and that up to 30% of truck crash fatalities on rural roads are due to sleep deprivation.
  • The risk of a crash effectively doubles from the eighth to the tenth hour of driving, and doubles again from the tenth to the eleventh hour of driving alone. (FMCSA, 2000).

Liability Factors Can Affect The Value of Your Case

Don't let the insurance company blame you!

Blue Semi-Truck 80% Fault
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In some states, if the semi-truck driver is 80% at fault and you are 20% at fault, your settlement amount would be reduced by 20%. (Always consult with an attorney about your state's negligence laws).
Red Semi-Truck 100% Fault
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Our goal is to place 100% fault on the truck driver to ensure you receive the maximum amount of compensation for your case.

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