No one would argue truckers have an easy job.
The hours are long and the ride can be physically grueling, mentally exhausting and potentially dangerous.
The nature of the work and the fact that truckers are often hauling heavy and dangerous materials means everyone who shares the road with them are at risk for truck accidents in Pompano Beach and elsewhere.
Our Pompano Beach truck accident attorneys know that in 2008, one out of every nine traffic fatalities involved a large truck. In fact, that same year, more than 4,000 large trucks were involved in fatal accidents and some 66,000 were involved in crashes that resulted in at least one injury.
Now, the U.S. Department of Transportation is tightening restrictions on the trucking industry in an effort to curb fatalities and injuries that happen due to large trucks.
According to a recent news release, Ray LaHood, the secretary of the federal agency announced a nationwide response to the issue of trucker fatigue by limiting the number of consecutive hours a trucker can be on the road. The agency has also re-written the minimum safety requirements for those who drive commercial trucks.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has successfully revised trucking rules. Under the new guidelines, truckers will work 12 less hours in any given week. That means they will be allowed to drive 70 hours in a week. Previously, most truckers averaged 82 hours over a 7-day period.
Also under the new rule, truckers will be mandated to take at least a 30-minute break every eight hours, though they are encouraged to make more frequent stops if they feel themselves getting drowsy.
Plus, in a 24-hour period, the trucker will only be allowed on the road for 11 hours. The safety administration is considering whether that may also be too many. For now, the 11-hour rule stands.
For truckers who breeze through those 70 hours, they’ll need to restart their clock and get two consecutive nights of rest.
While it doesn’t entirely solve the issue of trucking accidents in Pompano Beach and throughout Florida, the hope is that it will drive down the number of fatal accidents and injuries that result when these over-sized vehicles are involved.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, large trucks were more likely than smaller vehicles to be involved in a crash that involved multiple vehicles. In fact, 82 percent of all fatal crashes where a large truck was involved also involved multiple cars. Compare that to 58 percent of all passenger vehicle wrecks that involved multiple cars.
In most of the cases where a truck accident was fatal, it happened on a rural road, during the well-lit daytime hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on regular weekdays.
It remains to be seen whether trucking accident statistics will be affected by the new rules.
In the meantime, companies that violate the new rules could face fines of $11,000 for each offense. Drivers can also be fined civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each violation.
If you or a loved one is injured or killed in a trucking accident in Florida, contact our personal injury lawyers of Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez, LLC for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 1-800-529-2368.