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Trade group wants hours of service regulations revised

Truck drivers in Louisiana and around the country would be able to break up their journeys into segments without affecting strict hours of service regulations under a petition to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration made by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. Hours of service rules are designed to prevent accidents caused by drowsy truck drivers, but they could actually be making the nation's roads more dangerous, according to the OOIDA.

The present hours of service regulations limit truck driver shifts to 14 hours including breaks, and the OOIDA says that this encourages drivers to remain behind the wheel even when they become dangerously tired. The group wants the FMCSA to revise the rules to stop the 14-hour clock when tractor-trailer drivers to take breaks lasting up to three hours. They have also asked the federal agency to scrap a rule that mandates a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a truck driver's shift.

The changes would make the roads safer, according to the OOIDA, by allowing truck drivers to plan their trips to avoid heavy traffic and treacherous weather conditions, and the group points out that a mandatory 10-hour rest between shifts would still be required under the revisions they are proposing. The FMCSA is already evaluating a more flexible approach to hours of service rules, but trade groups say that the regulatory process could delay proposed changes for years.

In addition to limiting the amount of time that truck drivers can spend behind the wheel, hours of service regulations require commercial vehicle operators to maintain detailed records of hours worked. These logs can help big rig accident investigators to determine whether or not fatigue played a role, and they may also be used by personal injury attorneys to establish negligence in litigation filed on behalf of victims or their surviving family members.

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The Law Offices of W.A. “Chip” Forstall, Jr.

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