Texas drivers may be interested to learn about new rules passed by the
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that are designed to make
the roads safer. According to the Department of Transportation, as many
as 4,000 people die in bus or truck crashes in America each year. Approximately
13 percent of those accidents are caused by
truck driver fatigue.
First, any driver who is operating a commercial vehicle is required to
take at least a half hour break during the first eight hours of driving.
Drivers are now entitled to at least 34 hours of off-duty time once per
week to allow them to sleep. These 'restarts" must include at
least two periods between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. Also, commercial
truck drivers are no longer permitted to work more than 70 hours per week.
The FMCSA believes that chronic fatigue can impair a person's ability
to drive safely and that these new regulations will help reduce fatigue.
One driver reported that some major
truck accidents are caused by drivers that were awake for more than 36 hours in a row.
It is believed that the new rules could reduce up to 19 deaths per year.
However, drivers object to the half hour required break, claiming that
they can determine on their own when rest is necessary. The new regulations
could also cost the trucking industry as much as half a billion dollars.
When a commercial truck driver injures someone because fatigue makes it
impossible to operate a vehicle safely, both driver and company may be
liable for any injury that results. An Austin personal injury attorney
may be able to help injured parties recover for their medical bills, pain
and suffering, lost wages and property damage.
Source: NPR, "New Rules Put Brakes On Truck Drivers' Schedules", June 30, 2013