Lowering the risk of a Connecticut truck accident requires drivers and commercial carriers to abide all traffic safety laws as set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). One of those key rules involves Hours of Service. This is the maximum amount of time a truck driver can legally be on the road. Far too many drivers and carriers try to skirt this rule by fudging their hours on their manual logs—which they are required to keep and submit to regulators.
The problem got to be so bad—and the number of truck accidents involving fatigued drivers so great—that federal safety administrators decided to impose a mandate, requiring that by the end of this year, all carriers install electronic logging devices on trucks.
This had several trucking industry groups in an uproar. One such group, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, submitted a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court asking for a review of the FMCSA mandate. Recently, the nation's highest court declined that review, meaning all carriers will need to have these devices installed by the end of the year.
Cost, Privacy Concerns Cited
One of the top concerns the OOIDA cited was that of cost. As our Fairfield County truck accident lawyers understand, the mandate will affect some 500,000 trucks on U.S. roads. Equipping all those trucks with these electronic logging devices will be about a $1 billion business. Each device may cost an estimated $20 a month to maintain.
Small trucking companies, opponents say, will be the ones harmed by this mandate. Many of these firms were waiting on the outcome of the petition request before taking the plunge. Now, they must have the ELDs installed by December 18th or face sanctions.
Another worry cited was that of invasion of truckers' privacy. Many truckers have voiced opinions to the effect that they did not need a machine to tell them how to do their jobs.
However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) pointed to one large study that showed 13 percent of all large truck accidents involve at least one driver who was identified as having been fatigued. Plus, there are long-standing concerns about drivers and companies not being entirely honest on manual hours of service logs, leading to drivers on the road for much longer stretches than the law allows. Research shows a person who is awake for 18 hours straight may have the same level of impairment as one who is legally drunk on alcohol.
At minimum, opposition groups are asking that the federal government delay implementation until outstanding questions as to the technical aspects of these devices are answered.
FMCSA Hours of Service Rules
In order to reduce trucker fatigue leading to crashes, the FMCSA has long required trucking companies to limit the hours of truckers operating property-carrying rigs of 10,000 pounds or more. Those rules include:
- Maximum 11-hour driving limit following 10 consecutive hours off-duty;
- Maximum 14 hours on duty following 10 hours off-duty. Additional off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour limit;
- Required 30 minute rest breaks every 8 hours.
If you are injured in a trucking accident in Fairfield County, CT, contact our experienced injury lawyers to help you pursue compensation for damages.