The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has recently updated rules on maximum on-duty hours and maximum drive time for truckers. The update is an attempt to reduce drowsy driving crashes. Victims of collisions can use evidence of rule violations to obtain compensation if they are involved in an accident with a tired trucker. A Janesville auto accident attorney can provide assistance to those who have been hurt.
While the hours-of-service rules can help victims to prove a trucker was negligent in a drowsy driving crash, it can sometimes be difficult to conclusively demonstrate that a driver violated the requirements. A new proposal could help to solve this problem and could help to ensure that drivers have more incentive to obey these important safety rules.
New proposal could reduce drowsy driving truck crashes
The new FMCSA rules made several changes to drive-time limits to better address the problem of driver fatigue. Among the new requirements are a stipulation that long-haul truckers take a ½ hour rest break after eight hours of driving and a mandate that truckers drive for no more than 11 hours per day. Drivers are also prohibited from driving more than 60 hours over a seven-day period or 70 hours over an eight-day period. Once these times are reached, the driver has to take a 34-hour rest break including two periods of time between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.
While these rules are intended to encourage safety, many professional trucking groups have taken issue with them and indicated that they impede productivity and make the risk of accidents higher by forcing drivers to be on the road during prime driving time.
Driver dissatisfaction with the rules coupled with a shortage of professional truckers could create an incentive for truckers to break the rules. Unfortunately, getting away with rule violations isn’t that difficult because drivers keep their own logbooks indicating when they are on duty. These log books could be faked and drivers could take dangerous risks such as driving for more hours than they should or lying about the times when they drive. To solve this problem, the FMCSA has proposed that trucks be equipped with electronic devices in order to track the number of hours that the truck is in operation.
According to Fox News, the electronic devices could prevent as many as 434 injuries and 20 deaths each year by making it harder for truckers to break drive time rules. Unlike paper logbooks that can be manipulated, the electronic tracking devices would make it very clear when a trucker is operating his vehicle and for how long.
Not only would an electronic tracking device make drivers less likely to operate a vehicle when fatigued (because they’d be more likely to get caught), but victims of motor vehicle collisions could also use accurate electronic records as evidence in injury or wrongful death claims.
When a trucker violates safety rules, this creates a presumption of negligence and makes it easier for victims to prove the trucker should be held liable for accident losses. The victim could point to the evidence from the electronic modeling device to show conclusive proof that the trucker has driven for longer than he should.
Janesville truck accident lawyer Steve Caya can help collision victims to pursue a damage claim against a drowsy trucker who causes a crash. See examples of truck accident settlements secured for crash victims in Wisconsin.