As a personal injury firm, we represent clients hurt in motor vehicle and truck accidents. A contributing factor of those accidents is often fatigue, an issue recently addressed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
In Alabama, accidents with trucks including utility, pick-up and semi-trucks took the lives of more than 300 people in 2011. That same year, FMSCA lowered the allowable hours of service (HOS) for drivers of rigs weighing more than 10,000 pounds. While the rule went into effect in 2012, the final compliance date was July 1 of 2013.
Reducing the situational and long-term fatigue experienced by truck drivers is a primary concern of FMSCA in lowering the HOS. Some key points about the rule change include:
- The maximum allowable work week for a truck driver is now 72 hours, a 15 percent reduction in hours from the previous 82 hour maximum.
- Within or after eight hours of drive time, truck operators must take a 30 minute break.
- The new rule does not alter the 11 hour maximum driving limit per day.
While most trucking companies and drivers will follow the new HOS rule, penalties for lack of compliance with the new regulations include the following:
- Drivers who exceed HOS rules must remain roadside until needed rest is obtained.
- The driver and his or her trucking company may be assessed fines by the state and by FMSCA.
- The safety rating of the trucking company could be reduced following repeated violations.
- Federal criminal charges can be sought and brought against the trucking company in the presence of repeated violations of the rule.
Driving on any road can be hazardous. Driving near an 18-wheeler with a sleepy driver can be deadly. Get experienced legal help if you are injured in a trucking accident in Alabama.