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FMCSA expected to relax hours-of-service rules

Truck drivers in Louisiana and around the country are generally paid based on the number of miles they cover and not the amount of time they spend on the road. This compensation arrangement could prompt drivers to remain behind the wheel even after fatigue has set in, which is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has put hours-of-service regulations into place that strictly limit the length of their shifts. Groups lobbying on behalf of the logistics industry have long urged regulators to relax the rules, and recent media reports suggest that the Trump administration plans to do just that.

The FMCSA is widely expected to issue what is known as an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that will allow comments to be submitted about the current hours-of-service regulations. This is often done before rules are strengthened or relaxed. Comments about a 30-minute break that truck drivers are required to take after eight hours on the road are likely to be numerous.

Industry groups like the American Trucking Associations have welcomed the news. These organizations say the current regulations are too rigid and do not allow drivers to plan their trips to avoid rush-hour traffic. Road safety advocacy groups including the Truck Safety Coalition and the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety oppose any changes and point out that deadly truck accidents have surged in recent years.

Semi-tractor trailers have been required to carry electronic logging devices since December 2017. This technology keeps detailed records of how trucks are driven and how long their drivers spend behind the wheel. Experienced personal injury attorneys may seek to have trucks involved in accidents inspected so that this data can be recovered when their clients have been injured in a crash caused by truck driver fatigue. Truck inspections might also reveal other signs of negligence such as botched repairs or neglected maintenance.

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