The commercial trucking industry will roll out new regulations for truck drivers in Florida and around the country this month. Effective July 1st, 2013, truckers will have to comply with new rules for sleep and start-times, in a concentrated effort to ensure that drivers are well-rested for the road. Personal injury attorneys in Fort Myers hope that the new laws will cut down on accidents involving commercial vehicles.
The trucking industry is fueled by covering long distances in the most efficient amount of time, and truck drivers are often on the road for several hours at a time with few, if any, breaks. The faster a truck driver can cover the distance, the more trips he or she is able to take, and truck drivers earn their livings based on these levels of efficiency. Often, a driver can work himself or herself to the point of fatigue and distraction by taking on too many trips, or pushing to finish the last leg of a long trip before stopping to rest or sleep.
Excessive fatigue causes many drivers to drive erratically and unsafely, and truck drivers are no exception. Truckers who suffer from sleep deprivation and irregular sleep cycles cause several highway accidents every year, personal injury lawyers in Fort Myers report. Most claims against commercial vehicle companies and their drivers deal with truckers who were driving and dozing, or distracted while behind the wheel. Unfortunately, trucking training often does not include tips on how to fight fatigue while on the road, and with the high-pressure nature of the job, drivers may feel uncomfortable or uneasy with taking naps during trips.
But under the new regulations issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), trucking companies will now enforce new rules for employees, ensuring that drivers have reduced working hours, with minimum sleep-hour requirements and maximum driving-hour limits. These new rules overturn the changes made several years ago, which increased the amount of consecutive hours that commercial truck drivers were allowed to travel on the road. Since those rules were issued, studies have shown that extended trips lead to accidents caused by tired and distracted drivers.
The new FMCSA guidelines will cut back on the number of hours that a driver can work, reducing the hours per 7-day period that a driver can be on the road by 15 percent, from 80 hours to 70. Another rule makes it mandatory for truckers to take a 30-minute break after driving for eight-hour stretches. The penalties for violating these rules are high fines—drivers may be forced to pay up to $2,750 for a violation, and commercial trucking companies may be fined up to $11,000 per occurrence.
Fort Myers personal injury attorney Randall Spivey hopes that, with the updated FMCSA guidelines in place, the highways will be safer for truckers as well as other drivers. If the number of consecutive hours that a driver can operate is reduced, the number of drivers going without a good night’s rest is reduced as well. These safer driving practices can help promote safer roads for all drivers.
At the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., the experienced lawyers in Fort Myers represent anyone who has been in an accident involving a commercial truck.