Truckers in West Virginia and across the U.S. have to follow complex rules regarding their “hours of service,” which include rules on breaks that must be taken during every shift. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Department of Transportation agency that’s in charge of regulating the trucking industry, has chosen to relax the HOS regulations starting in September 2020.
Truckers are becoming more and more straitened by deadlines, and so the FMCSA is allowing for greater flexibility when it comes to when they can take their breaks. That way, truckers who do not feel they need a break are not held up. The FMCSA believes this will result in millions of dollars’ worth of regulatory savings and a much-needed boost to the economy.
The decision has, as might be expected, met with both support and opposition. The main concern is that the lack of rules will lead to greater truck driver fatigue and, consequently, more accidents on the highways.
Trucking industry groups that had opposed the rule regarding the use of electronic logging devices have applauded the decision, though. The president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has also said that truckers being drowsy on the road is not the problem; rather, it’s truckers becoming tired while cargo is being loaded and unloaded.
Truck accidents can be caused by drowsiness, alcohol intoxication, distractions and more. When it’s clear that a truck driver’s negligence led to a crash, victims may file a claim against the trucking company. In this state, plaintiffs in a personal injury claim can recover damages as long as they themselves are less than 50% at fault. Contributory negligence will, of course, lower the amount that victims can receive. To help ensure a good settlement, then, victims may want to hire a lawyer.