The last act of Congress in 2014 may avoid a government shutdown, but it also shuts down efforts to limit deaths in accidents caused by tired truck drivers.
Lawmakers recently passed an omnibus spending bill, providing $1.1 trillion in funding for the federal government through the end of fiscal year 2015. Like every spending bill, it offered goodies and giveaways to all types of businesses. One big favor, unfortunately, went to the nation’s trucking industry.
The bill suspends two important Hours of Service regulations aimed at sidelining fatigued truckers and the deadly dangers they pose. And both were enacted just last year.
Currently, truckers can drive a maximum of 11 hours a day, and no more than 60 hours total in a seven-day period. If a truck driver takes a 34-hour break from the road, those seven days begin again.
Rules to Limit Tired Truck Drivers
Two new regulations enacted in 2013 mandated that:
• A truck driver’s 34-hour rest period can be taken only once per week
• The 34-hour break must include two periods of rest between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.
The spending bill suspends these two regulations until at least September 2015, and requires additional study by the federal government that proves a “net benefit” if they are to be reinstated. What this means is that truckers hauling tons of cargo can again go two nights in a row without sleeping.
It’s interesting to note that trucking companies have been fighting the new regulations ever since they were first proposed, while the Teamsters Union, which includes truck drivers, opposes their suspension. Tired truck drivers are just one cause of catastrophic trucking accidents. But they are responsible for too many to be allowed back on the road.
If you lost a family member in a fatal crash involving a truck, you may want to consult an attorney experienced in investigating trucking accidents to explore your legal options for pursuing compensation from those responsible.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.