Trucker Rule Change Leads to Questions About Motor Safety
As reported in the Wall Street Journal on August 14, 2019, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in keeping with the Trump Administration’s desire to deregulate and relax federal rules regulating industries, has proposed changes to the “hours of service” rules covering the amount of hours truck drivers are allowed to spend behind the wheel. Currently, truck drivers are only allowed to drive for eleven (11) hours of a fourteen (14) hour workday. The proposed changes would allow truck drivers to split their previously required ten (10) hour break into two separate five (5) hour breaks, without either counting against the fourteen (14) hour workday; take thirty (30) minute to three (3) hour breaks that would not count against the fourteen (14) hour workday); and, allow truck drivers to stay on the road for longer in adverse conditions, such as severe weather. While the American Trucking Associations say the “core principles” of the regulations would still be in place after the revisions, highway safety groups believe the changes are a dangerous weakening of the safety regulations put in place before, as they would lead to truck drivers having less rest and longer hours on the road. These proposed changes come after a ten percent (10%) increase in fatal truck crashes in 2017, where a total 4,657 large trucks were involved in crashes that killed at least one person involved in the crash. The FMCSA’s proposed changes are estimated to save the trucking industry, which generated $800 billion in revenue in 2018, $275 million.