Pennsylvania Trucking Accident Update: Truck Driver Rule Changes

NHTSA 2009 2010 traffic accident statistics

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In December 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) passed new hours of service (HOS) rules for drivers of commercial vehicles like commercial trucks. Some rules are effective as of February 27, 2012 while other rules are effective as of July 1, 2013. The rules apply to drivers of commercial vehicles. Download the new FMCSA rules here.

Under the FMCSA, a commercial vehicle is one that fits into any of the following categories:

  • weighs at least 10,001 pounds,
  • has a gross weight rating of at least 10,001 pounds,
  • transports at least 16 passengers (no compensation),
  • transports at least 8 passengers (for compensation), or
  • a vehicle used in interstate or intrastate commerce transporting hazardous materials of a certain quantity.

The FMCSA rule changes mostly affect drivers who work over 70 hours a week, such as long-haul commercial truck drivers. While the new rules do not change the current 11 hour limit and 60 and 70 hour work week limits, the rules change the use of the “34 hour restart,” the specific hours the “restart” can be used, and application of the 30 minute break rule.

The FMCSA made the changes after recognizing the serious hazards created by long hours on the road, both daily and weekly. For example, drivers who work long hours sleep less and tend to suffer chronic fatigue. Such lack of sleep translates into delays in reaction times and reduced ability to think clearly, conditions which are accident hazards. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Traffic Safety Facts” research note published February 12, 2012, truck accident fatalities increased by 6% from 2009 to 2010.

NHTSA 2009 2010 traffic accident statistics

*Source: NHTSA, Traffic Safety Facts Report, 2012

To submit your case for review by our Pennsylvania and New Jersey trucking accident lawyers, call Click To Call. Our lawyers are available for a free, no obligation legal consultation, and can obtain special admission in other states, such as New York or Delaware, on a case by case basis.

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Published: May 22, 2012