Government takes aim at truck driver fatigue

In 2011, the state of Texas recorded a total of 3,016 motor vehicular fatalities, 427 of which resulted from accidents that involved large trucks. Truck accidents can be extremely serious and leave victims with permanent injury or even result in wrongful death.

According to the National Truck Accident Lawyers association, crashes in which semi-trucks are involved lead to the death of at least one person 98 percent of the time. There can be many causes of truck accidents and driver fatigue is one such common cause. It is also the reason that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted new laws that change the parameters for truck drivers' working hours and break times.

Safety for all is the ultimate goal

The FMCSA set out to create new guidelines that would reduce the instance of truck driver fatigue and, in so doing, reduce the instance of truck driver accidents. Based upon their statistics, the organization expects to save 19 lives and prevent the occurrence of 560 personal injuries by the enforcement of the new rules.

The FMCSA also believes that the changes will prevent 1,400 truck accidents from happening nationwide. Texas drivers can certainly hope that some of those preventable accidents are in their state.

The new truck driver working hour guidelines

A reduction in the number of work week hours along with specific parameters for break periods are at the crux of the new laws. These rules were put into effect in the middle of 2013 and include:

  • The weekly work week for a truck driver can include 70 hours of work time at a maximum
  • For every work day, 14 hours of work time can be recorded.
  • For every work day, 11 hours of actual time spent driving can be recorded.
  • Every eight-hour shift worked must include a 30-minute or more break.
  • Every work week must include a longer break of nothing less than 34 hours that should cover two unique early morning times from one to five.

Before these new laws, truckers could log up to 82 working hours in each work week. Trucking companies, individual truck owners and truck drivers are all eligible to be assessed penalties or fines if these laws are violated.

An eye on safety and your rights

Accident prevention is always a primary objective. However, in the event that you are involved in a truck accident, you should make sure to obtain proper advice from an attorney in order to make sure that your rights are protected.