Gusty A.E. Sunseri & Associates, P.C. Attorneys at Law

What are the Hours of Service rules and how do they affect truck accident litigation? P.2

Previously, looked at the federal Hours of Service rules in summary form, noting their important role in addressing the problem of truck driver fatigue. As we mentioned last time, the 34-hour restart rule has received a lot of attention in recent years due to a provision requiring truckers to include within their restart period two rest breaks from one to five o’clock in the morning.

In 2015, that measure was suspended at the request of the trucking industry so that Congress could study the effectiveness of the rule for safety. The trucking industry largely contended that the rule made only a minimal improvement on highway safety, if any improvement at all, and that this was outweighed by the reduction in productivity.  

That, it turns out, is fairly close to the conclusion reached by the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General. According to the DOT, the above-mentioned rule does not result in improved roadway safety when compared to the less restrictive 34-hour restart rule. Because of that, the rule is set to be revoked altogether.

There have been some criticisms of the study, but those criticisms are not likely to change anything. Going forward, the Hours of Service will indefinitely remain as they have since the measure was suspended. Truck drivers and their employers are required to abide by these rules and keep accurate records of compliance.

Violations of federal and state safety rules can be an important way for accident victims to build a strong case for negligence. Working with an experienced attorney in building up these cases is important, though, both in understanding the laws applying to a case, and for presenting the strongest case possible for liability. 

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