As readers may know, the trucking industry is currently pushing to roll back changes to federal safety rules that impact rest breaks for truckers and to allow increased weight and length limits for trucks. The industry is trying to get those changes inserted into an upcoming omnibus spending bill. Opponents of the efforts say that the proposed changes would negatively impact highway safety.
Though trucking safety is a large topic, there is one particular set of rules that have gained a lot of attention in recent months. These are the hours-of-service rules we have previously written about, which govern daily and weekly driving time limits for truckers and related matters. The rules are intended to ensure that truckers are sufficiently rested while they are on the job so as to avoid accidents resulting from fatigued driving.
Fatigued driving as a result of overwork and lack of sleep is certainly something that does occur. As the recent accident involving actor-comedian Tracy Morgan shows, the impact of these accidents can be serious, and potentially fatal.
Trucking companies, of course, have a duty to carefully select their drivers and perform ongoing safety monitoring to ensure their performance is up to par. Screening out those who are particularly at risk for falling asleep behind the wheel is part of this, as is screening out those who have medical conditions that could impact their performance behind the wheel.
Trucking companies who fail to abide by federal requirements in these areas face the prospect of penalties from federal regulators, as well as liability for the personal injuries of those involved in truck accidents. Victims of these accidents should always work with an experienced attorney to ensure negligent drivers and their employers are held accountable.
Source: The Hill, “Truck safety groups call for veto of government funding bill,” Tim Devaney, Dec. 4, 2014.
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