Now, more than ever, commercial trucks are relied on to deliver commercial goods to stores and individual consumers in Oklahoma and elsewhere. However, meeting this increasing demand can be problematic, as there are only so many trucks, truck drivers and number of hours a truck driver can operate a truck in a set period of time. Because of this, there is a growing concern that dangerous behaviors have emerged, as trucking companies push drivers to travel faster and work beyond the regulated hours of service.
Federal trucking regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA oversees federal trucking regulations. While these expand beyond the hours of service for truck drivers, the focus of this post will remain on this specific regulation. Currently, truck drivers for commercial trucks have a limitation of on duty hours of 14 hours, are required to take a mandatory 30-minute break after 8 hours of continuous driving and a required 10-hour off duty rest break for those operating a truck equipped with a sleeper berth.
Push to change hours of service regulations
Because of the current situation faced by the nation, the FMCSA has issued a final rule that would help promote flexibility when it comes to the hours of service regulations set for commercial truck drivers. However, the agency is currently reconsidering this final rule, as many safety advocacy groups suggest that this would present safety risks and potentially increase the number of truck accidents on the roadways.
The proposed changes would extend the current 14-hour on duty limitation by up to two hours in situations where a truck driver has encountered adverse driving conditions, revise the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers and the options for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break.
Those against such changes emphasize current statistics for fatalities involving large trucks. In 2018, there were 4,951 fatalities that involved a large truck, and these numbers increased by around 1% in 2019. This, along with other research data, highlighted the hazards associated with the truck driver profession, such as fatigue.
A truck accident can have severe and tragic impacts on victims and their loved ones. Those harmed in a truck crash should understand their rights when it comes to a personal injury action. For those that have lost a loved one in a truck accident, a wrongful death claim may be a valuable step to take. These civil actions could help place liability on a negligent truck driver and trucking company, helping those harmed recover compensation for the losses suffered.