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Proposed new rules to combat trucker fatigue

Many Connecticut motorists may exercise extra caution when driving in close proximity to large commercial vehicles, and statistics compiled and promulgated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration support that practice. Accident statistics from 1998 demonstrate that 98 percent of people who died in collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles were occupants of the passenger vehicles.

Furthermore, statistics reveal that fatigued commercial vehicle drivers are often the cause of this type of accident. While federal regulations limit the amount of time that truck drivers may spend behind the wheel, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration feels that the number of truck accidents on the nation's roads could be reduced if these rules were revisited. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed that drivers be required to take longer continuous breaks both between and during their shifts.

While these rule changes would lengthen mandatory rest times, they would also allow unrestricted driving at night. Even under the proposed rules, truckers would be permitted to spend up to 300 hours per month behind the wheel. Another proposal calls for the mandated use of electronic devices to measure the hours that drivers work. Studies have found that up to 75 percent of truck drivers have violated the rules regarding hours of service, but the use of electronic on-board recorders might improve both compliance and driver attitudes, reportedly.

Truck drivers operate in a fiercely competitive sector, and they are often under tremendous pressure to meet deadlines. However, they may face civil sanctions in the event that they are found to be in violation of hours of service regulations at the time of an accident causing injury or death. In such a case, a personal injury attorney representing accident victims may file a lawsuit seeking substantial money in damages against both truck drivers and their employers.

Source: Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, "Truck Driver Fatigue", November 08, 2014

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