The Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMSCA) is the government agency that is in charge of oversight of all commercial trucking. The agency has stringent rules and regulations in place that all commercial trucking companies and drivers must adhere to. This includes the number of hours that a truck driver can work.
Hours of service (HOS) are the maximum number of hours that truck drivers are permitted to be on duty, including the number of hours they spend driving. HOS rules specify the number of rest periods a driver is required to take, as well as how long rest periods should be, for each shift. Truck drivers are required to keep logs to show that they are compliant with HOS rules. These logs are officially referred to as hours-of-service records of duty status (RODS). Make no mistake, keeping fatigued and otherwise tired truckers off the road is a laudable goal of trucking company regulation.
The first HOS rules were put in place in 1937, however, over the past 20 years, there have been dozens of changes and legal fights over what these restrictions should be between the federal government and the trucking industry.
On September 29, the FMSCA enacted new HOS rules, but once again, there appears to be a disconnect between the FMSCA and trucking company owners. A large survey was conducted by J. J. Keller Center for Market Insights and week before the new rules went into effect. According to the results of the survey, 40 percent of the 500 trucking company owners who participated said they did not have a full understanding of what the new HOS were nor had they evaluated the impact the new rules would have on their company’s operations. Fifteen percent of respondents said the survey was the first time they were even hearing about the new changes.
The survey also revealed that many motor carriers are struggling with the FMCSA’s electronic logging device (ELD) mandate. The new rules now require commercial truck drivers to use ELDs if they are required to prepare RODS. In the survey, carriers reported that recordkeeping requirements, collecting supporting documents, and managing ELD requirements presented challenges.
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One of the most common causes of truck injuries and deaths continues to be truck driver fatigue, even with HOS regulations in place. According to studies conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy driving is directly responsible for nearly 20 percent of all truck accidents.
Victims of truck accidents should consider retaining the services of an experienced Virginia trucking personal injury attorney who will conduct a thorough investigation of the crash, including obtaining the driving and employment record of the truck driver, maintenance records, and other critical information which will help determine the cause of the truck crash and which parties are responsible.
If you or a family member has been injured in a truck accident, or if you have lost a loved one in a crash, contact a seasoned Virginia truck accident attorney to discuss what legal recourse you may have. Truck accidents are more complex than other types of vehicle accidents and often have more than one potential source of insurance coverage for the persons injured.
Even if it is not entirely clear who is the at-fault party, a Va. truck injury attorney will be able to determine which party or parties are liable. At Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn, our injury attorneys have successfully represented numerous truck accident victims and obtained the financial justice they deserved.