On December 29, 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed revisions to regulations regarding the hours of service (HOS) for property-carrying commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. This new rule was prompted by the federal agency's concerns about the impact of fatigued drivers on overall highway safety. However, the proposed regulations has prompted opponents to lobby the White House to maintain the current rule and abandon any attempt to change it.
Under the proposed changes, the FMCSA favors a 10-hour service time limit on commercial drivers, and would incorporate sleeper-berth periods. However, the rules would continue the requirement that commercial vehicle operators complete driving work within a 14 hour work window, which includes an hour break. Daily shifts could be extended, on a limited basis, to accommodate non-driving duty time, such as loading, unloading and parking time. The FMCSA has until July 26, 2011 to publish its new HOS rules. If the proposed rules go into effect without amendments, truck drivers and their companies face stiff penalties for violations. A driver could be fined up to $ 2,750 for each HOS violation, while his employer could face up to $ 11,000 for each HOS violation.
Members of the trucking industry, which include the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and National Private Truck Council (NPTC), opposed the proposed rule changes. Citing improvements in driver safety and declines in commercial truck related fatalities and injuries, the industry believes that the new changes are unnecessary and would increase traffic congestion and crash risks, increase product costs, and increase operation costs.
The FMCSA, as well as other federal agencies, are mandated to make our nation's highways safer. With commercial trucks and their drivers continuing to create significant safety risks for all who share our nation's roads, the federal government must make sweeping regulatory changes and hold trucking companies and their drivers accountable. For those injured by the negligence of a commercial vehicle operator, seeking the advice of an experienced attorney can help protect your legal rights and financial health.