Last July, new federal regulations designed to reduce truck driver fatigue took effect. The regulations – which were first announced in December 2011 and took full effect on July 1, 2013 – limit the average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours to ensure that all truck drivers have adequate rest to operate their vehicles safely.
In its press release the Department of Transportation said that “[w]orking long daily and weekly hours on a continuing basis is associated with chronic fatigue, a high risk of crashes, and a number of serious chronic health conditions in drivers.” The new rules are estimated to save 19 lives and prevent approximately 1,400 truck accidents and 560 injuries each year.
Pursuant to the new federal regulations, trucking companies and truck drivers are required to comply with the following limitations:
- Maximum average work week for truck drivers is 70 hours.
- After the maximum 70 hours of driving per week is reached, truck drivers may resume driving only after they rest for 34 consecutive hours, including at least two nights from 1- 5 a.m.
- Mandatory 30-minute breaks during the first eight hours of a shift.
While truckers and trucking companies were unenthusiastic about the new regulations, new data supports the new hours-of-service regulations. Last week, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released the findings of a field study conducted by the Washington State University (WSU) Sleep and Performance Research Center, which show that the new hours-of-service regulations are more effective at combating fatigue than the previous regulations.
According to Science Daily, the researchers measured driving, sleep, and fatigue across two duty cycles and the intervening restart break for more than 100 truck drivers. The study results showed that drivers with two or more nighttime periods in their restart breaks experienced fewer lapses of attention, reported less sleepiness while on duty, and maintained their lane position better than those with only one nighttime period in their restart.
“Earlier laboratory studies we have done for FMCSA suggested that the old provision did not provide sufficient sleep opportunity for nighttime drivers whose restart break included only one nighttime period,” said research professor Hans Van Dongen, the study’s principal researcher. “Our field study has shown that nighttime drivers tended to have a nocturnal sleep schedule during their restart breaks and that adding a second nighttime period therefore allows them additional time for sleep recuperation.”
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At Cogan & Power, P.C., our unique legal team, which includes a nationally recognized member of the prestigious Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America, is committed to obtaining just compensation for trucking accident victims and their families. We take great pride in our record of successful verdicts and settlements, including a recent $13 million verdict in a trucking accident case, as well as the enduring relationships we have developed with our clients.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident or would like more information about new trucking regulations, please contact us at (312) 477-2500 to schedule a free consultation with one of our dedicated trucking accident attorneys and begin the process of recovering. Because we work on a contingency basis, we will not collect any fees from you unless we get you compensation.