New Federal Rules May Help Reduce Truck Driver Fatigue

Scartelli Olszewski P.C.

Thousands of people are killed each year in large truck fatal accidents and tens of thousands are seriously injured. Recently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) adopted new rules for hours of service to reduce driver fatigue. Among the new rules is a requirement that the average work week for truck drivers not exceed 70 on duty hours, a reduction from the 82 hour limit under the previous law. On duty hours does not mean driving time. On duty includes waiting to be dispatched, loading and unloading and inspecting or repairing vehicles. Drivers are required to maintain logs or records of their “duty status.” Employers are required to have policies in place to enforce the rules. Truck drivers and their employers are required to follow a myriad of other rules and regulations. Knowing what records and evidence to get from a trucking company is essential to successfully represent individuals injured or killed by a large truck. After gathering all the evidence the next step in investigating a large truck crash is reviewing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations for any violations by the driver and/or trucking company. Legitimate lawsuits seeking monetary damages for harms and losses caused by negligent truckers and trucking companies serve two vital purposes. First, they relieve an often huge financial burden thrust upon the injured parties and their families through no fault of their own. Without shifting this burden from the injured party to the responsible party, often, the injured and their families become dependent on government aid – a cost that is ultimately borne by the taxpayers. The second purpose is to deter drivers and trucking companies from violating rules and regulations meant to ensure everyone’s safety. Compliance with these regulations saves lives. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that the new safety regulations will save 19 lives and prevent approximately 1,400 crashes and 560 injuries each year. A major deterrent for trucking companies is the potential for punitive damages for violating the hours-of-service regulations. A legitimate claim for punitive damages may be made where (1) the driver violated the regulations; (2) the employer trucking company deliberately failed to monitor or supervise the driver’s conduct and a violation occurred; and (3) the company failed to implement corporate safety policies to prevent violations of the federal regulations. The lawyers at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C. can investigate and pursue a lawsuit against a truck driver and trucking company where lives have been lost and people seriously injured. Contact us today to find out how we can help.