What a difference a week makes. Last week, a United States Senate panel gave the green light to an amendment to federal law that would alter the existing rest and sleep requirements for truck drivers. Changing the rules that have been structured to avoid driver fatigue is controversial and has been brought front and center since the tragic crash in New Jersey last week that we posted on for our readers.
The proposed amendment to pull back on restrictions on driver hours, is viewed by many as a step in the wrong direction. Those who are involved in highway safety are against the change that would push back the requirement that truck drivers be allowed time off during certain hours and take consecutive hours off before restarting their work week. The existing rules were put in place only recently and after much study, to lower the risk of fatigue on drivers. Along with other provisions, the current rules mandate that drivers must take two nights of consecutive rest in the hours between 1 am and 5 am. — also called the “restart” rule. The proponent of altering this rule claims that it puts more trucks on the roads in daylight hours which presents a safety risk to other drivers. Opponents of changing the rules have said that studies on driver fatigue indicate the rest is key to safer driving.
The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) current rules enable drivers to restart their work week by taking consecutive hours off before doing so and the DOT is not supportive of any changes in this rule. In addition, other federal agencies agree with the DOT and the research and support that was completed prior to the rules going into effect that the Senate panel is trying to undo. According to the proponents of maintaining the status quo, the result of all the work was a plan to enable drivers to balance their hours and drive more safely.
The trucking crash that caused a fatal injury and has hospitalized Tracy Morgan who remains in critical condition at this time, is an example of what can happen when a truck driver, who is driving a very heavy vehicle, falls asleep at the wheel. The allegations in the crash in New Jersey are that the driver, who happens to be a Georgia resident, fell asleep and woke up to swerve out of the way of slowing traffic which resulted in the fatal crash.
Truck accidents and related injuries are some of the most catastrophic due to the nature and size of the vehicle involved. If you are a victim of a truck crash, please contact Scholle Law for a free evaluation of your truck accident. It is very important to receive legal support as soon as possible so that evidence can be preserved and so that you can begin your recovery from the trauma of such an event. We have a great depth of experience in complex matters, including those involving large trucks and serious or fatal injuries and we are here to help you and your family.