Noble McIntyre on February 3, 2012
Our Oklahoma City truck accident attorneys see many different reasons why truck accidents occur. Distracted driving, bad weather, and inexperienced drivers are just some of the factors that can possibly attribute to a trucking accident. One factor that has received a great deal of debate recently is driver fatigue and the driver hours-of-service rule.
In December, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) passed a new rule designed to help prevent fatigued drivers from getting on the roadways. The new rule reduces the amount of time a truck driver can work in a week, from 82 hours to 70 hours. Also, the rule requires that truck drivers cannot drive after working eight hours without taking at least a 30 minute break. However, the new rule keeps the current 11-hour daily driving limit. Critics argue that this amount should be reduced to 10 hours a day.
Truck drivers and companies must comply with the new rule by July 1, 2013. The overall aim of these regulations is to make truck drivers more awake and alert while driving. As a result, drivers will be less fatigued and hopefully will help eliminate truck-related accidents and fatalities on the roads.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there was an 8.7% increase in fatalities from truck-related accidents from 2009 to 2010. In 2010, 3,675 people died in truck-related accidents, up from 3,380 in 2009. This was the first increase in four years. Also, the number of people injured in 2010 from truck-related accidents was 19,000, a 12% increase from 17,000 in 2009.
While the trucking fatality numbers in 2010 were up, they still demonstrate a 30% decline from 2000, when 5,282 people died in truck-related fatalities. Also, while there has been a rise in truck accident fatalities, overall traffic fatalities have decreased. In 2010, 32,855 people were killed in traffic accidents, the lowest number since 1949, when 30,246 people were killed. This is encouraging, especially when you take into account the drastic increases in traffic and technology since 1949.
To enforce these new standards, the new truck driving rule provides enforcement through monetary penalties. Truck companies that allow a truck driver to break the 11-hour daily driving limit by three or more hours could be fined $11,000 per offense, while truck drivers themselves could face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense.