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Controversy in Changes to Trucking Restart Rule

Posted on February 26th, 2015 by Admin

In July 2013, Congress implemented the “Restart Rule” which required that truck drivers, who average 70 hours a week, to take a 34 hours break every seven days. The rule also requires that the break periods include the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. twice within those 34 hours.

In the 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, Congress voted to suspend the restart rule and no longer require two overnight periods. In addition to the suspension of the rule, Congress has charged the Secretary of Transportation to “conduct a study to evaluate the operations, safety, health, and fatigue aspects of the restart provisions”. Essentially, the study is to compare the effectiveness of both versions of the rule. Following, the Inspector General is to “review the study plan and report findings to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations whether it meets the requirements under this provision.

The change in the rule has sparked controversy between some advocates of highway safety and the trucking industry. Catherine Chase, of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, states that truck crashes cost about $99 billion a year resulting in about 4,000 deaths and 100,000 injured. Others have also argued that a driver’s fatigue, drowsiness or sleepiness can decrease alertness, decrease reaction times and makes it difficult to stay in one lane or navigate turns correctly.

There is a likelihood that the fatigue could lead to an increase in auto accidents with 18-wheelers. In June 2014, the concern of truck driver’s fatigue caught national attention when a Wal-Mart Truck driver failed to respond to traffic and slower speed limits and rear-ended a limo bus carrying actor and comedian Tracy Morgan and several others. The accident resulted in serious injury of Morgan, and others, as well as the death of James McNair. Morgan has filed a negligence suit against Wal-Mart citing that the driver’s had been awake for more than 24 hours when the auto accident occurred. Criminal charges have been filed against the Wal-Mart truck driver.

For more information about the restart rule, please visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website. If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident caused by an 18-wheeler, you may need legal assistance to ensure that your rights and proper compensation are given. Please contact, Trucking accident attorneys at The Cochran Firm Atlanta to schedule a free initial consultation and receive a case evaluation.

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