Understanding Proposed FMSCA Changes
The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) manages the safety regulations imposed on drivers and truckers. These rules are in the best interest of truckers because their goal is to keep them safe and reduce the likelihood of accidents. The FMCSA imposes hours of service regulations for drivers on a national level.
Hours of service regulate the time that drivers of large vehicles, like buses and interstate truckers, spend on the road. They are necessary because a large percentage of accidents are due to truck driver fatigue. Hours of service also mandate the minimum amount of time a driver must rest before going back to work.
Although these rules save thousands of lives, they do not work in favor of some trucking companies. The longer a truck driver works without breaks, the shorter it will take to complete a job. Due to this, the trucking industry lobbies for reduced hours and changes in regulations. These proposed changes could be unsafe for other vehicles on the road.
What Are the Proposed FMSCA Modifications?
The proposed modifications were given to the White House Office of Management and Budget. They create significant safety risks for drivers and the public. The only stakeholders benefitting from these modifications are trucking companies.
The modifications requested are:
- Increasing short-haul travel times for drivers from 12 hours to 14 hours
- Increasing the 14-hour on-duty limit by 2 hours when driving in adverse weather conditions
- Decrease the 30-minute break after 8 hours of driving
- Changing the off-duty break rest regulation if a truck has a sleeping berth
Although the announcement for revisions was for June 7th, 2019, a delay occurred. At the end of 2019, modifications to break and mealtimes did happen, prompting fears of the removal of the 30-minute break.
To counter this, the House Appropriations Committee passed the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Bill. This bill prevents the FMCSA from removing the 30-minute break. However, that is a small victory as the lobbying efforts continue to push for changes.
What Modifications Mean for Truck Drivers
Driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of truck accidents. It is not only recommended but necessary that drivers take their eyes off the road and rest frequently. Trucking regulations protect drivers from exhaustion, and truck drivers are already tired despite the current hours of service rules.
When a tired truck driver drives an 18-wheeler, it is a recipe for disaster. The risk of getting into a serious car wreck when a driver is not fully alert is well-known. Despite this, commercial truck drivers are now forced to work more, when the current rules are not enough to prevent thousands of injuries and deaths.
Modifying these rules will result in a direct increase in fatal truck crashes. Even if the modifications to the 30-minute break do not happen, the legislation requires annual renewal. Fatigue-related crashes are such a recurring problem that technology systems now detect them through sensors. Decreasing the rest that a driver gets and increasing on-duty time is sure to come with negative repercussions.
With no present modification announcement, commercial truck drivers can continue to work under the current FMCSA hours of service. It is in the best interest of all to ensure that truck drivers are alert and are not overworked, and it is clear that the modifications proposed will increase truck accident numbers nationwide.
Types of Trucking Accidents We Handle in Houston and Across Texas:
- Jackknife Accidents
- Truck Rollovers
- Tire Blowouts
- Truck Driver DWI
- Wide Turn Accidents
- Blind Spot Accidents
- Read End Accidents
- Brake Failure
- Underride Accidents
- Lost Load Accidents
- Head-on Collisions
- T-Bone Collisions
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