Maryland Truck Accident Lawyers: New Rules to Reduce Truck Accidents

Our firm represents clients seriously injured in trucking accidents. With trucks weighing from 10,000 to upwards of 80,000 pounds, a collision between a passenger car and any kind of truck can be devastating. Recently, new rules went into effect to address one of the causes of such accidents — fatigue.

In 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) made rule changes concerning hours of service (HOS) regulations affecting truck drivers. The rules mostly affect long-haul drivers with limited opportunity for regular, restorative sleep during their work week.

Recognizing that chronic fatigue affects the health and driving ability of truck operators, FMSCA made service hour changes that became fully effective on July 1 of this year, including the following:

  • The number of allowable work hours per week is reduced from 82 to 70. Optimistically, the reduction of 12 hours will address fatigue issues like apnea, driving drowsy and driver error that lead to horrific truck crashes.
  • Drivers must take a 30-minute break during an eight-hour driving shift.
  • The 11-hour driving limit under the old rule was not altered. FMSCA officials note they will continue to review research to determine if future changes are needed.
  • An egregious violation of HOS regulations was not strictly defined under old rules. Under the new regulation, operating a vehicle three hours past the new limits, or allowing a driver to do so, is considered an egregious act, and subject to full penalties under the law.

Driving a truck for hours on end is hard work. These new regulations will hopefully decrease truck accident fatalities and improve truck operator health. However, if you are involved in a Maryland truck accident, speak with our Maryland truck accident lawyers at Leviness, Tolzman & Hamilton, P.A. for strong legal representation.