Truck drivers in Florida and nationwide must abide by a number of safety rules and regulations to protect their safety and other motorists sharing the road. New provisions effective July 2013 require compliance involving sleep and start-times to ensure that drivers are well-rested and that fatigue does not interfere with a truck driver’s capabilities, reaction time, and control of a commercial vehicle.
The nature of the commercial trucking industry requires that drivers are on the road for long-hours. Drivers are paid by how much ground they are able to cover in a certain period of time. This means the faster a trucker drives, and the more hours on the road, the more money a driver can make. Our Fort Lauderdale truck accident attorneys are experienced with complex cases involving fatigued or negligent truck drivers and trucking company liability.
In many cases, truckers are prone to sleep deprivation and disruption of the normal sleep cycle. This creates concern for safety advocates as well as others sharing the road. Statistically, fatigue is proven to cause a significant number of accidents and injuries to drivers, passengers and other motorists throughout Florida. Unfortunately, truck driver fatigue prevention is not a priority during driver training. Fatigue management is often an afterthought for trucking companies who must ensure that drivers follow state and federal regulations.
Drivers may have other competing interests when on the road—going home to see their families, beating rush hour, or making up for lost time due to inclement weather. To reduce driver-fatigue and the incidence of accidents caused by driver fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has developed new standards to reduce the number of “hours of service” performed by commercial truck drivers.
Several years ago, the hours of service were extended, increasing the number of hours commercial drivers are on the road under the Bush Administration. Extending the number of hours a driver can spend on the road creates the possibility for greater fatigue and more accidents. Studies demonstrate that reducing the number of hours of service will also reduce the number of fatigue-induced crashes. Decreasing the number of hours a driver can spend on the road will also reduce the health problems associated with chronic sleep-deprivation.
The FMCSA’s new regulations will reduce the number of hours a driver can work by 12 hours. This is a significant reduction (15%) from the old rules that permit a maximum of 80 hours within a work-week (7 days). Now drivers can only be on the road 70 hours. New regulations will also require that drivers take a 30 minute rest period after they have been driving 8 hours. Drivers who violate the new regulations can be fined up to $2,750 and companies may be fined up to $11,000 per violation.
Driving a big rig or commercial truck is a significant responsibility requiring every driver to be alert, awake and able to manage uncertainties. Inclement weather, road construction, traffic, and other driver negligence can create hazards for trucks, and other drivers. The FMCSA believes that reducing the number of hours truck drivers can spend on the road will ultimately prevent driver fatigue and save the lives of other innocent motorists and their passengers.
If you or someone you love suffered in a truck accident, contact Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez, LLC for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1-800-561-7777.
More Blog Entries:
Broward Trucking Accidents and the Right to Reduce Risks, South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog, November 6, 2012
Two Interstate Highway Accidents Shutting Down All Lanes, South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog, July 19, 2012