FMCSA concludes HOS study: Potential impact on trucking accidents

The study was designed to determine the effectiveness of hours-of-service rules on trucking accidents.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that it has concluded the data collection portion of the Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Driver Restart Study. The study was designed to review the effectiveness of the hours-of-service restart regulations. Researchers with the study report that over 220 drivers participated.

Driver fatigue and trucking accidents

The FMCSA states that driver fatigue is an "important crash cause." In an effort to reduce the risk of fatigue related accidents, the agency issued hours-of-service (HOS) rules in 2011. Essentially, the rule is composed of two main requirements:

  • Breaks. Truck drivers are required to take a 30 minute break within the first 8 hours of a driving shift.
  • Restart. The restart requires the driver take two consecutive rest periods during a weekly driving window. A weekly driving window is defined as 60 hours on duty over a span of seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight consecutive days. In order to restart this driving window, a driver must take two consecutive periods off from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. during a minimum restart of 34 hours. This restart should be used once every seven days.

The agency predicted that the change would only impact a small group of drivers that regularly worked long hours.

Goal of the study

Researchers with the study were tasked with gathering data to determine the impact of this rule. Data was gathered on safety critical events of drivers over a five month period. Safety critical events examined included crashes and near-crashes as well as fatigue and alertness of the drivers. This data will be assessed in an effort to determine if these changes reduce the risk of trucking accidents.

Reality of trucking accidents

Unfortunately, even with these efforts accidents still happen. Those who are injured in a trucking accident may be eligible to receive compensation to help cover the costs associated with the crash through a personal injury suit. Depending on the details of the accident, the driver and/or the trucking company may be liable for the crash. This can result in an award to help cover the costs of medical expenses, rehabilitation and lost wages among other things.

Exploring these liability options can be a complex process involving investigations and gathering evidence. As a result, it is wise for victims of these accidents to seek the counsel of an experienced truck accident lawyer. This legal professional will guide you through the process, helping to better ensure your legal rights are protected.