Last week we began a discussion about a lawsuit which has been filed challenging the new hours of service (HOS) rules for commercial truckers. The suit alleges that the HOS revision is inadequate and will fail to significantly improve trucking safety.
As a result, an unacceptable number of trucking accidents related to drowsy truckers will likely continue to occur each year. The new HOS revisions were released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) late last year.
The revisions failed to address two key concerns voiced repeatedly by safety advocates:
- Truckers remain allowed to drive for 11 consecutive hours
- Truckers may continue to exceed driving limits pursuant to the terms of the 34-hour restart provision
The 11-hour driving limit was not reduced in the revisions, despite the FMCSA's insistence during the proposal phase that 10 hours would be preferable, as this limit would best address the issue of trucker fatigue.
The restart provision continues to allow truckers to work 70 hours in eight days, provided that they abide by certain rest provisions during periods of excessive driving.
In addition to these challenges, the truckers and safety advocates who have filed suit are concerned about the new loophole in the HOS rules which will allow truckers to sit in their truck's cab rather than sleep during certain mandatory rest periods. All three of these issues contribute to legitimate concerns that the new HOS rules may not go far enough in preventing trucker fatigue.
Twice in the past 10 years, the relevant federal Court of Appeals has heard challenges to HOS revisions and both times the court has ruled in favor of the challengers. Hopefully, this round of litigation will fare no differently.
Source: Sacramento Bee, "Safety Groups and Drivers Go to Court Over New Truck Driver Hours of Service Rule," Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Feb. 24, 2012