Truckers and trucking companies are under immense pressure to deliver goods safely and on time, which is a challenge in any environment. However, we are living in stressful and uncertain times, and ground transportation industries are among those adjusting to extreme challenges in terms of operations, demand and supply.
In the midst of all this, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently published its final Hours of Service rule.
Changes promise flexibility for drivers
Many drivers and trucking companies have struggled when it comes to compliance with HOS regulations. In some cases, issues stem from complications associated with logging time; in other cases, the restrictions of HOS regulations compromised deliveries. There are also instances where strict rules put drivers in a position to make dangerous choices in order to comply.
The final rule attempts to make it easier for parties to stay in compliance by allowing for some flexibility. The four main revisions in the final rule include:
- Extending the 14-hour driving window by two hours in adverse driving conditions
- Allowing the 30-minute break after eight driving hours to qualify as “on-duty, not driving” rather than “off-duty” status
- Permitting drivers to split 10 hours off-duty into two periods (either a 7/3 split or an 8/2 split)
- Changing the maximum amount of on-duty time to 14 hours up from 12, and increasing the distance limit from 100 to 150 air miles for drivers affected by the short-haul exception
These changes could make it easier for drivers to find solutions that work best for them and their schedules.
Accidents can still happen
No driver wants to get in a trucking accident or put their lives in danger unnecessarily. Most truckers and trucking companies will comply with state and federal regulations designed to protect motorist safety, including HOS regulations that are aimed at preventing fatigued driving.
However, accidents do happen. Sometimes they are simply that: an accident. In some cases, some factors contributed to the crash that could have been avoided.
Whatever the cause of a truck accident may be, it is crucial for truck drivers and trucking companies to assess their legal options. Doing so can protect them from unfair penalties and wrongful allegations of negligence.