Our nation’s economy relies on the ability of producers of goods to ship their wares across the nation, including right here in Georgia. Many companies utilize semitrailer trucks to transport their products. Driving a semi can be financially rewarding, and sometimes drivers are incentivized to make as many deliveries as possible, as quickly as possible. However, to do so some truckers may try to drive for long hours, even if they are fatigued. This can result in truck accidents caused by drowsy driving.
To address this situation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has instituted hours-of-service regulations that dictate how long truckers may drive before they must take a rest break. The Department of Transportation updated these rules earlier this year, and initially set June 7 as the publication date that the rules would take effect. However, an agency spokesperson has confirmed that these rules are still being reviewed, and they will not be published on June 7 as previously indicated.
Currently, a trucker can only be on duty for 14 hours before being required to take a rest break. The new rules would extend that period by two hours if the trucker is driving in adverse driving conditions. In addition, the new rules will revise the mandatory 30-minute break truckers currently must take after driving for eight hours straight. Under the new rules, truckers can take a single three-hour break for every 14-hour period they are on-duty. And, the new rules would allow truckers to utilize multiple three-hour off-duty periods in place of a single 10-hour rest break. The changes would also permit truckers who are utilizing their vehicle’s sleeper berth to split up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break they must take.
It remains to be seen when these changes will be made, if approved. Until then, the current hours-of-service regulations stand. Despite these regulations, drowsy truck drivers will unfortunately still cause accidents that injure or kill other motorists. When this happens, the victim of the truck accident may want to determine whether they are able to pursue a personal injury claim to be compensated for the damages they suffered.