Nov 12, 2019 Trucking Accidents, Uncategorized, Vehicle Wrecks
For years, trucking companies have lobbied against federal hours of service (HOS) rules, which limit the number of hours a driver can operate a commercial vehicle. While these rules are meant to keep everyone on the road safe, the trucking industry argues that they too restrictive and complicated.
Now, a series of proposed changes may loosen these important regulations. In this blog, Crosley Law explains the hours of service rules, the proposed changes, and how you can protect yourself from truck wrecks involving drowsy drivers.
What Are the Hours of Service Rules?
The federal government enacted the first hours of service rules in 1937, due to concerns about truck driver safety and fatigue. Since then, all interstate truck drivers must follow strict rules about the amount of time they can be on the road. To prove their hours of service, drivers had to keep accurate logbooks that track their time driving.
Unfortunately, some drivers and companies kept fraudulent logbooks to avoid penalties and liability. In 2018, electric logging devices (ELDs), which cannot easily be forged, became mandatory for many truckers. By electronically recording truck information and drive times instead of trusting drivers and their employers to accurately report the information, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) drastically improved HOS compliance.
RELATED: What Is the ELD Mandate and Is It making Our Roads Safer?
However, the trucking industry opposes these safety rules and is working on loosening them.
The Trucking Industry Pushes for “Flexibility” and Deregulation
Once the ELD mandate forced the industry to follow the existing federal hours of service rules, the truck industry began fighting back. Some of the opposition focuses on the ELD mandate itself. However, the industry is also pushing for deregulation and encouraging the government to create more “flexibility.”
RELATED: Study: Drowsy Driving Causes 11% of Serious Crashes
Demands for ELD Exemptions
With encouragement from the trucking lobby, some lawmakers have proposed laws that would exempt companies from ELDs. One such bill applies to small carriers with ten or fewer trucks in their fleet. Supporters of the Small Carrier Electronic Logging Device Exemption Act argue that ELDs are too expensive and burdensome for businesses with small fleets.
However, many small carriers have poor safety records. They are also more likely to be a “chameleon carrier,” or a truck company that re-registers as a new company whenever it develops a poor safety record. This practice sometimes allows them to continue operating when they might otherwise have been shut down.
Other proposed bills include exempting trucks carrying agricultural products or livestock from the mandate.
FMCSA Proposes New “Flexible” HOS Rules
The FMCSA recently published proposed changes to its hours of service rules, in response to complaints from the trucking industry. The changes would permit longer drive times, including:
- Increasing total daily driving times and route lengths, as long as drivers take additional 30-minute breaks
- Decreasing the mandated consecutive hours of sleep to only seven hours
- Allowing trucks to operate longer in adverse weather conditions
While these rules will benefit trucking companies, short breaks and longer drive times may increase the likelihood of drowsy driving.
How Are Driver Fatigue, HOS Rules, and Truck Crashes Connected?
Research clearly shows that drowsy driving increases the risk of a serious wreck. Unfortunately, many trucking companies value speed and profits more than our personal safety. The HOS rules and ELD mandates are powerful tools that can hold coercive companies and reckless drivers accountable.
Driver Fatigue is a Top Ten Contributor in Truck Crashes
Studies show that we need roughly eight hours of uninterrupted sleep to function. Sleep-deprived adults are more likely to suffer from psychological issues like depression, anxiety, and mood swings. Additionally, fatigue has been proven to cause performance deficits that affect driving ability, including:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Decreased reaction times
- Memory issues
- Lower overall productivity
- Poor decision making
In the worst cases, drivers can lose consciousness.
“By electronically recording truck information and drive times instead of trusting drivers and their employers to accurately report the information, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) drastically improved HOS compliance.”
According to FMCSA’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study, driver fatigue is one of the top ten causes of truck crashes. The study found that fatigue causes 13% of truck crashes and has one of the highest relative risks among the other top ten contributors—only driver inattention ranked higher than fatigue in both frequency and risk. While 13% may not sound like much, this means that tens of thousands of crashes are caused primarily by fatigue every single year.
To make matters worse, most experts believe that drowsy driving is underreported and underestimated.
Hours of Service Rules Decrease Truck Driver Fatigue
There have been countless studies linking truck drivers’ time on the road and fatigue. In 2016, a group of government and independent agencies compiled decades worth of truck driving data that assessed fatigue. The results varied based on the type of truck, routes, and number of participants in each study.
However, there were some common trends. There is a clear link between a driver’s time on the road and their level of fatigue. At least one study found that taking breaks from driving, like those required under the HOS rules, increased safety.
Crosley Law Fights for Victims of Truck Accidents
Although the FMCSA claims that flexible HOS rules will not compromise our safety, the truck accident attorneys at Crosley Law are not convinced. Our attorneys have experience investigating truck companies and have first-hand knowledge of how they attempt to manipulate the law, sacrificing safety for profits. Allowing additional flexibility in the HOS rules will likely result in more companies forcing drivers to exceed their allowed driving hours.
If you or a loved one has been in a truck wreck, please contact us today to speak with one of our experienced attorneys about your case. Call 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000 or complete this brief online form to schedule your free consultation today.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. (June 2018). Electronic logging devices: Improving safety through technology [infographic]. Washington, DC.: U.S. Department of Transportation. Retrieved from https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/regulations/enforcement/406471/eld-infographic-6-month-update-f2508621.pdf
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Publishes Hours of Service Proposal to Improve Safety and Increase Flexibility for Commercial Drivers. (2019). Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/newsroom/federal-motor-carrier-safety-administration-publishes-hours-service-proposal-improve-safety
Field, A. (14 January 2009). Why sleep is so important. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2009/01/why-sleep-is-so-important.html
Jaillet, J. (21 March 2019). Bill to exempt small carriers from ELD mandate filed in U.S. House. Commercial Carrier Journal. Retrieved from https://www.ccjdigital.com/bill-to-exempt-small-carriers-from-eld-mandate-on-deck-in-u-s-house/
Panel on Research Methodologies and Statistical Approaches to Understanding Driver Fatigue Factors in Motor Carrier Safety and Driver Health. (2016, August 12). 7, Fatigue, Hours of Service, and Highway Safety. In Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Fatigue, Long-Term Health, and Highway Safety: Research Needs. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK384974/
The large truck crash causation study (July 2007). Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/research-and-analysis/large-truck-crash-causation-study-analysis-brief
Watson, N., Badr, M., Belenky, G., Bliwise, D., Buxton, O., Buysse, D.,… Tasali, E. (2015). Joint consensus statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society on the recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult: methodology and discussion. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 11(8), 931–952. Retrieved from https://aasm.org/resources/pdf/pressroom/adult-sleep-duration-methods.pdf
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.
Related ArticlesView All Blog Articles
What Is the Texas Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury (and When Should I File My Lawsuit)?Feb 01, 2023
One of the first questions many people have an injury is, “How long do I have to make a personal injury claim?” While that’s an extremely important piece of information to know, it can also be misleading—and in some ways, the wrong question to ask. Here’s the short answer: In most cases, you have two […]
What Should You Do After a FedEx Truck Crash in Texas?Dec 09, 2022
With more than 100,000 vehicles, nearly 125,000 drivers, and an annual revenue estimated at around $84 billion, FedEx is easily one of the largest trucking companies in the United States. With numbers like these, it’s no surprise that FedEx freight trucks are involved in injury-causing truck crashes nearly every day on American roads. In fact, […]
5 Reasons You Should Always Talk to a Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyer After a CrashJul 21, 2022
After a traffic accident, you have a lot to think about and plenty of decisions to make. One of them is whether you’ll work with a commercial vehicle accident lawyer to demand compensation for your losses. You should always talk to an attorney if you’ve been hurt in a car or truck accident. No matter […]
What Causes Texas Oil Truck Accidents (and What to Do If You’re Injured)Jul 13, 2022
In Texas, the oil and gas industry is big business. More than 400,000 Texans are directly employed within the industry, helping to produce, transport, and refine more than 1.5 billion barrels of crude oil per year. The sheer amount of oil tankers we have on the ground virtually guarantees that at least a few serious […]
How Does Insurance Work with Commercial Truck Accident Liability?Dec 02, 2021
Many truck wreck victims have never been in a collision before and aren’t sure where to start. At Crosley Law, we know how overwhelming the aftermath of a truck crash can feel, especially if you or someone you loved suffered serious injuries. Before you contact the insurance company or accept a quick settlement, you need […]
How to Find the Best Personal Injury Attorney in San AntonioNov 03, 2021
If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, truck wreck, or any other personal injury incident that wasn’t your fault in the San Antonio area, you might be overwhelmed by all the options available to you. Even if you’ve already decided you want to work with a personal injury lawyer, this city doesn’t have a […]
Fatigue-Related Accidents: How Truck Driver Fatigue Causes WrecksSep 22, 2021
When the topic of impaired driving is discussed, most people think of drunk driving. But the truth is, truck driver fatigue (which can become even more dangerous if it leads to sleeping at the wheel) is one of the most common forms of driver impairment. In fact, it’s comparable to drunk driving. While anyone can […]
I Was Injured by a UPS Driver. What Can I Expect?Aug 02, 2021
You see delivery drivers all over, running from one destination to the next. But when the UPS truck crashes into you, they could make the road to your settlement a lot more complicated. There were 2,759 crashes involving UPS drivers over the last two years. Over 980 of those involved an injury, which adds up […]
How to Get a Fair Settlement in Your Truck Accident ClaimJul 22, 2021
In 2020, there were 32,562 crashes involving commercial vehicles in Texas. They resulted in almost 600 fatalities and thousands of serious injuries. Truck crashes can cause devastating injuries — leaving victims struggling to move on. At Crosley Law, we help crash victims get the answers and accountability they deserve. Our truck accident lawyers have earned […]
Find the Best Truck Accident Attorney in San Antonio, TexasMay 17, 2021
The aftermath of any traffic accident is stressful, and trucking accidents tend to be more traumatic than typical car crashes. From medical bills for serious injuries to the damage passenger vehicles often endure, victims face many obstacles to complete healing. Working with the right attorney can make all the difference to the process and outcome of your case by alleviating stress, supporting healing, and increasing your […]
Do you or a family member
need legal advice?
Crosley Law Firm, PC is a professional corporation of trial lawyers focused on representing individuals and families who have suffered serious personal injuries or wrongful death. If you’ve been injured, fill out the form for a free consultation, or call 210-LAW-3000.