Tired truckers are a real menace on the roads of Georgia. If a driver falls asleep behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound tractor-trailer, other road users can suffer catastrophic injuries and loss of life. The federal Hours of Service rules are meant to address this issue.
The trucking industry is meant to abide by a set of federal regulations set out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
The rules are meant to keep fatigued truck drivers off the roads of Georgia and elsewhere. However, many trucking companies have challenged them, claiming they impact competitiveness.
Under the Hours of Service regulations truckers must:
- Not drive more than 11 hours after taking a 10-hour break;
- Not be on the highway beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty after being off duty for 10 hours.
- Not drive after spending 60/70 hours on driving duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A commercial vehicle driver can restart his or her 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off driving duty.
- Take rest breaks and drive if eight hours or less have elapsed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty or sleeper berth period of a minimum of half an hour. There are some short-haul exceptions to the rest break rule.
- Drivers who take advantage of the sleeper berth provision must take at least 8 consecutive hours in the berth, as well as a separate two consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or any combination of the two.
Safety groups say the Hours of Service rules don’t go far enough. For example, the Truck Safety Coalition says influential interest groups in the trucking industry have restricted the scope of these rules.
The requirement of trucking companies and drivers to maintain records of driving hours to comply with these federal rules are important. They can help an attorney during a lawsuit against a trucking company to establish if a driver was tired.
One of the most infamous recent cases involving a tired trucker related to a crash that left the comedian Tracy Morgan with a brain injury and killed his friend in 2014. They were hit by a Wal-Mart truck driver from Georgia on the New Jersey Turnpike. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the driver had been awake for more than 28 hours before the collision and was driving 20 miles per hour above the speed limit.
Despite high-profile cases like this, new moves to tighten up the rules related to fatigued truckers were recently defeated in Congress.
Trucking industry lobbyists, as well as shippers, are pushing for the federal government to relax the rules on the weight limit of trucks. The industry wants to allow trucks of more than 90,000 pounds and increase the overall length of trailers in double-trailer combinations up from 28 feet to 33 feet, according to safety campaigners.
If you have been hurt in a trucking accident in Georgia, you may have major medical needs. Please call our trucking wreck lawyers at (404) 913-1529.