Truckers spend hours a day behind the wheel. They have long hours, constantly changing schedules, and irregular sleep patterns. It’s no wonder that fatigue contributes to truck crashes in Maryland. Recent changes in federal standards are intended to combat that problem.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently won a Court of Appeals decision that allowed the agency to maintain regulations initially proposed in 2011. As of July this year, truckers must follow the new Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations, which are as follows:

  • Drivers may still drive up to 11 hours per day.
  • Drivers may not work more than 60 hours in 7 consecutive days, or more than 70 hours in 8 consecutive days. The previous maximum was 77 hours in 7 days or 88 hours in 8 days.
  • The above weekly clock may be reset only if the driver rests for 34 consecutive hours, which must include at least two nights of sleep from the hours of 1 to 5 a.m. The time-specific portion of the trucker “restart” system is new.
  • Drivers must now take one half-hour break during the first eight hours of their shift.

The DOT estimates that the new hours of service will save 19 lives a year, prevent 560 injuries per year, and prevent a whopping 1,400 truck accidents. Those in the trucking industry are divided about the new HOS rule. Some say the new regulations will unfairly punish the majority of drivers who don’t overextend themselves. Others say it’s not enough and that too many drivers continue to cause accidents while exhausted behind the wheel. A study sponsored by the DOT estimates that in 13 percent of all accidents involving a commercial vehicle, the commercial driver is fatigued.

When a truck driver is fatigued, the risk for a serious Maryland truck accident increases. If you or someone you love has been the victim of a truck accident in which fatigue was involved, you should contact an experienced Maryland truck crash lawyer for help getting the compensation you deserve. To set up an appointment for a free consultation, call our offices at 800-875-9700.