In a prior post, we discussed a case in which a driver who was injured after being struck by a sleep-deprived truck driver was awarded a large verdict as compensation for her injuries. That case is a good lead-in to a discussion of an article published in USA Today about new limits on truck drivers’ hours.
New Limits Placed on Truck Drivers’ Hours
Last July, new rules reduced the maximum number of hours per week a truck driver can be on the road from 82 to 70, with a required 30-minute break in the first eight hours of a shift. In addition, drivers must have a 34-hour break between workweeks, and the 34 hours must include two consecutive 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. periods.
Impact on Trucking Industry
According to the article, trucking industry leaders express frustration with the new rules because they essentially translate into higher costs for trucking carriers. Forced to hire more truckers to meet growing demand and increase pay for current drivers to compensate them for a reduction in their hours, carriers’ productivity has fallen by an estimated 3% to 5%.
Another impact is on delivery schedules, with early Monday deliveries taking the biggest hit since, depending on their schedules, a new workweek for many truckers can not begin prior to 5:00 a.m. Monday.
Responsibility for Public Safety
“I understand the realities of the impact of the rules on the industry’s productivity and costs, but where is the duty to protect the public,” asks Herndon injury lawyer Doug Landau. “Under what circumstance would it be okay to endanger the lives of innocent drivers just to save a few dollars? If we know that driver fatigue is a cause of truck accidents, and we know further than mandating rest times for truck drivers reduces the incidence of driver fatigue, doesn’t it follow that rules should be in place to regulate how much rest a truck driver gets before operating an 80,000 pound vehicle on our public roads and highways? Chronic sleep depravation can lead to reduced concentration, impaired memory and dulled reaction times. Think about it, a 4 ton rig going 60 miles an hour down the freeway, with a driver falling asleep behind the wheel. It’s a recipe for disaster.”
Abrams Landau Attorney Supports Tougher Rules
Just as Landau is in favor of laws requiring seat belts for drivers and passengers, helmets for bikers, and tough penalties for drunk drivers, he is a proponent of any law or rule that serves to protect public safety. After all, in his work with injured clients of Abrams Landau, Ltd., he has seen the horrible aftermath of serious injury.