Congress as well as state governments have spend considerable amounts of time over the past few years discussing hours-of-service regulations for the trucking industry. This issue is so important because driver fatigue has been linked to many serious trucking accidents. Having federal and state governments set guidelines for hours-of-service is important, as it ensures that drivers get adequate rest when driving.
However, hours-of-service debates always spark controversy. Deciding the exact optimal number of hours per driver is difficult. As well, trucking companies want drivers to be able to drive for longer periods of time in order to ensure profitability. Drivers, too, often want to be able to drive for longer periods of time to ensure a good wage. As well, reducing hours-of-service to the bare minimum may also have some adverse effects, some experts warn, as it ensures that drivers must remain on the road longer to complete one delivery, and this extended period on the road can mean increased driver fatigue as well. Plus, very low hours-of-service may contribute to longer delays of delivery as well as increased costs for customers.
Hours-of-service rules limit how many hours and how long drivers can drive. The regulations also require drivers to maintain driver logs to ensure that all drivers comply with hours-of-service rules. The aim of hours-of-service is to ensure that drivers get adequate rest and are not pressured to drive too long before resting. The idea to is reduce trucking accidents and the personal injuries they cause by limiting one of the key reasons for driver fatigue: long hours behind the wheel. Since the hours-of-service rules apply to all drivers and trucking companies, trucking companies do not have to worry about losing a competitive edge by allowing drivers more time to rest.
Hours-of-service rules include not just driving time but all on-duty time. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a truck driver is subject to hours-of-service rules and is considered to be on-duty when on duty at any terminal, plant or facility belonging to a truck shipper or carrier. A driver is also on duty and subject to hours-of-service rules when driving, when inspecting a truck, when fuelling and washing a truck, when spending time in the cab (not including the sleeper berth), when caring for a broken-down truck, when taking care of truck-related paper work, when loading and when unloading. A driver is also subject to hours-of-service regulations when supervising or attending a truck, when providing samples for drug/alcohol testing, when driving a company car, and when receiving or offering training. Further, a truck driver is limited by hours-of-service rules when working for any motor carrier – even if that work does not include driving a truck – and when doing paid work for anyone else. These rules ensure that drivers are not exhausted from doing additional work or from doing trucking-related work.
Hours-of-service regulations affect anyone. These rules affect how quickly products get to you when you order them and affect how much you pay for various products. More importantly, hours-of-service regulations ensure that the truck driver next to you on the road has had adequate rest and is less likely to cause an accident that threatens your life. All of us need to keep informed about hours-of-service rules and work to ensure that all truck companies adhere to these regulations.
If you have been injured in a trucking accident and suspect that negligence may have played a role, contact a qualified Florida personal injury attorney immediately. Even if you are not sure what has caused an accident, a Florida attorney can hire investigators to get the answers you need. A good Florida personal injury lawyer can advise you about your rights and can ensure that you get the full protection and assistance you are entitled to under the law.