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Off to Court--Companies Challenge New Trucking Hours Rule

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently announced that it has decided not to change its 11-hour shift limit for truck drivers. The agency was under pressure from other government transportation agencies and some members of the public to lower the cap to 10-hour shifts, in the interest of protecting other drivers on the road from fatigued truck driver accidents.

After all, truck driving is among the most dangerous jobs in the country, with over three thousand people dying at the hands of a truck. But how many did driver fatigue cause? Well, that's just another debate. Some claim almost forty percent, and others say only five.

Yet, the agency did make some changes that would lower some of the risk associated with truck driver fatigue. For example, truck drivers are now required to take 30-minute breaks and cannot work more than 60 hours in a seven day period and 70 hours in an eight day period. The agency's rule also requires that truck drivers have two consecutive nights off per week. In addition, the agency also requires that on the day the truck driver wishes to restart his or her work, the driver must wait until 6 a.m. to start driving again.

A number of trucking companies and the American Trucking Associations are suing the agency, claiming that it grossly underestimated the costs associated with the new rules, and that the rule was made based on stereotypes and perceptions, rather than facts and statistics.

These changes will hopefully reduce driver fatigue, the importance of which cannot be understated when you consider the massive size of these vehicles - weighing anywhere between 4,000 and 8,000 pounds. Even if it saves one life, the family of that one life saved will find the change in the law priceless - regardless of what the trucking companies claim. This is particularly true in areas with large highways like I-95, including North Carolina.

Yet, the rule could be nullified if the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia decides that the rule was not based on proper considerations.

Source: "Trucking Industry Challenges U.S. on Driver Rest Rules," Jeff Plungis

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