But will these changes make the roads safer - or more dangerous?
The trucking industry has been in the spotlight now more than ever in light of COVID-19. Consumer behavior has changed significantly since the pandemic began, disrupting supply chains and logistics. And while trucking companies have been busy trying to keep up with the demand, the government has been working on ways to ensure ongoing safety for everyone involved.
But the new regulations, announced May 14 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA), have been met with controversy. Trucking industry groups like the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) are in favor of the new rules. However, the Teamsters union, which represents many of the truck drivers, opposes the changes.
The Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa stated in a press release that, "In an effort to increase so-called 'flexibility' for trucking companies, the FMCSA is abandoning safety and allowing drivers to push themselves to the limit even further. Trucking is already one of the nation's most dangerous jobs. We shouldn't be sacrificing the health and safety of drivers just to pad the profits of their big business bosses."
A Closer Look at the New Regulations
Four main changes, which impact the hours-of-service-rules are as follows:
- Drivers are now allowed to take a 30-minute rest period after 8 hours of consecutive driving, whereas before, they had to take it during the 8 hours.
- If truckers are driving in adverse conditions, they can now extend their driving window by up to 2 hours.
- Short-haul truckers will not follow the same laws that long-haul drivers must follow, but their air-mile radius is extended from 100 to 150 air miles.
- Truck drivers will be allowed to meet their 10-hour off duty requirements now by taking two periods of rest. One must be at least 7 hours in their sleeper berth, and the other at least 2 hours in or outside of the sleeper berth. In the past, drivers had to sleep at least 8 hours in their sleeper berth and have a total rest period of 10 hours every day.
Hours of service (HOS) rules became more stringently enforced in 2017 when electronic logging devices were required in most truck driver cabins. The purpose of these rules and the instruments to support them was to save lives. And in 2014, the FMCSA estimated that these rules would prevent 1,714 crashes each year.
But some truckers believe that these regulations have had the opposite effect because they create a hazardous situation where truck drivers are in a race to "beat the clock." They say that because of these regulations, the longer you spend on the road, the more money you make.
While these new regulations are intended to keep truck drivers and motorists safe, not everyone agrees that they actually will. The FMCSA's final rule was released on May 14, 2020 and will go into effect 120 days after it is published.
DeSouza Law Firm is a leading personal injury firm representing accident victims throughout Texas.
If you've been injured by a car, truck, 18 wheeler, company vehicle, or in the oilfield, call DeSouza Injury Lawyers today at 361-799-2222