In 1939 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a federal law known as Hours of Service (HOS) that would regulate the number of hours any commercial motor vehicle driver reaches in a day.
Since the regulations were put into place, HOS was revisited in 2012 due to a major climb in truck accidents caused by fatigued drivers.
As of July 1, 2013, the new HOS regulations limit truck drivers to 14-hour days and a maximum of 70 hours in a work week.
If these limits are exceeded by 3+ hours, drivers can be fined $11,000 per offense and potentially face civil penalties as well.
Since the new HOS regulations became effective in 2013, truck-related accident fatalities have increased. According to FMCSA, the 2013 year concluded with a total of 4,127 large truck accident fatalities. By the end of 2015 there were 4, 358 nationwide.
Even with the new regulations in place, trucking accidents are still on the rise. What factors might be contributing to truck drivers going against the federal law?
Although HOS are limited, several factors may manipulate drivers to push for more daily hours on the road:
- Money. Drivers are often only paid for how many miles they complete, and the more hours on the road mean the more money they get paid.
- Deadlines. If a driver misses a delivery deadline, it can have financial consequences. Some may risk the 14-hour limit to avoid missing a deadline.
- Lack of truck drivers. The truck driving industry is a tough career path—between the long hours on the road, time away from family, training courses, and job risks (trucking accidents, penalties, accident lawsuits), it becomes more and more difficult to find drivers to fill the jobs.
The trucking industry is complex and potentially dangerous to other drivers if protocol is not followed and regulations aren’t frequently monitored.
For this reason, many are calling into question the need for special educational programs for drivers on the dangers of fatigue.
The FMCSA is still working on a plan to mandate trucking companies on dealing with fatigued driving. The National Transportation Safety Board suggests a “fatigue management program”, but some argue this would be expensive and not address all factors in fatigued driving.
As the industry searches for solutions, drivers should be cautious on the road at all times—especially near semi-trucks and late at night. If you or a family member was made victim of a negligent driver in a trucking accident, call me immediately.
As your Ohio car accident attorney, I’ll be there for you, and I will Make Them Pay!®
Author: Tim Misny | For over four decades, personal injury lawyer Tim Misny has represented the injured victim in birth injury, medical malpractice, and catastrophic injury/wrongful death cases, serving “Cleveland, Akron/Canton, Columbus, Dayton and neighboring communities.” You can reach Tim by email at misnylaw.com/ask-tim-a-question/ or call at 1 (800) 556-4769.