Last month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that it had finalized regulations over how to provide flexibility to truck drivers. The regulations had been debated for years and concern about how a driver can have flexible driving hours while limiting the dangers of fatigue.
Jim Mullen, the acting administrator of the FMCSA, said that the agency had been working on the new rules since 2018 and that will not add to the hours that drivers can operate their vehicles during a single workday. However, he said that the new rules will provide them with flexibility when it comes to taking breaks.
Safety Advocates Are Skeptical of the New Rules
The FMCSA also estimates that the new policies will help save $274 million in the trucking industry over the next decade. According to Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the new rules do the opposite of helping truckers—they actually extend their workdays and decrease opportunities for rest.
Previously, rules limited truck drivers to 11 hours of driving during a 12-hour workday with specific break times. Now, drivers can be on duty for 14 hours. They also nearly double the amount of geography that short-haul truckers can drive. Safety advocates worry that stretching a trucker’s hours-of-service will produce fatigue despite the maintained requirement for breaks.
“Truckers are really American heroes, especially at a time like this,” Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao said.
Before, truckers were required to take a 30-minute break during their first 8 hours of driving. Now, they only must take this break after 8 hours of driving. Additionally, any on-duty time that a driver spends not driving can be counted as a break. This means that someone can drive their truck for eight hours, arrive at a destination, help unload cargo for 30 minutes, and continue their journey. Despite not resting from work, their time spent not driving will count as a break.
“The rule issued today contradicts the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s statutory duty to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities,” she said.
James P. Hoffa, president of Teamsters General agreed with this statement adding, “allowing truck drivers to work longer and longer each day puts everyone on the roads at risk.”
If you've been injured by a truck accident and think it might have been caused by a driver who wasn't rested, help is available. Call our truck accident lawyers today at (888) 490-0442 to find out what your options for compensation might be.