Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers: Overnight Rest BreaksApril 21, 2017
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has dropped a requirement for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers that obligated them to rest overnight as part of hours of service (HOS) regulations. The Department of Transportation (DOT) made the decision based on the results of a study that compared two groups of CMV drivers. One study used the more restrictive regulations introduced in 2013 requiring overnight breaks, and the other followed the older less restrictive HOS rules. The DOT statement from the Office of Inspector General found no improvement in safety in the group using the 2013 regulations.
Who must follow HOS Regulations?
The mission of the FMCSA is to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks, buses and CMVs. A CMV is generally defined as a vehicle used for business purposes of interstate commerce. If any of the following apply, then the vehicle is subject to HOS regulations:
- The vehicle is designed/used for transportation of 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
- The vehicle is designed/used for transportation of nine or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
- The vehicle weighs 10,001 pounds or more
- The gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating is 10,001 pounds or more
- The vehicle is used to transport a quantity of hazardous materials that requires signage
Hours of service regulations are designed to prevent driver fatigue and drowsy driving truck accidents. They govern the working hours of CMV drivers and limit the daily and weekly hours a driver may spend behind the wheel. They also regulate rest periods. A CMV driver is required to keep a log detailing how many hours of work and rest have been completed as well as what time the change in status took place.
The Overnight Rule
In 2013, the Department of Transportation instituted new HOS regulations that required CMV drivers to take a 34-hours break once a week that included two rest periods between one a.m. and five a.m. There was opposition to the overnight rest requirement which some said put more trucks on the road during the busiest time of day – early morning rush hour. Congress agreed to suspend the rules while DOT conducted a study on the safety benefits of overnight rest periods. The DOT study collected data from more than 220 drivers from a variety of fleet sizes and operations. The information included over 3,000 driver duty cycles from electronic logging devices, more than 22,000 days of driver sleep data and over 75,000 driver alertness tests. In the end the DOT OIG wrote a letter to Congress saying that the study “did not explicitly identify a net benefit…from the suspended provisions.”
Groups like the American Trucking Association and the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association were pleased by the announcement saying the HOS regulations needed flexibility. However, the Teamsters union issued a strong statement against the report’s findings. Truck accidents fatally injure nearly 4,000 people annually in the United States. In his statement Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa said, “Truckers, like most of us, do their job better when they get proper rest. The consequences of curtailing rest breaks could be quite real.”
Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Truck Accident Victims
At LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, our dedicated truck accident lawyers in Baltimore can provide you with the experienced counsel you need if you are suffering from injuries sustained in a truck accident. Call us now at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent truck accident victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.