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Truckers say federal rest rule actually causes more fatigue

Many commercial truckers in Oklahoma and across the U.S. have complained about a federal rule requiring them to take a 30-minute rest break after driving for eight consecutive hours. The thrust of the argument is that the break creates delays, forces truckers to speed in order to meet deadlines and gives rise to fatigue sooner in the shift.

This is an important concern because some even believe that the inflexibility of federal hours-of-service guidelines is partly to blame for the recent surge in large-truck fatalities. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data shows a 9 percent increase in 2017 with a total of 4,761 people killed. The number has not been this high in 29 years.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration may revise HOS rules in the future. It is currently reviewing 5,200 comments on these rules, and the 30-minute break rule has naturally received most of the focus. However, other factors are involved in the increase of large truck-related crashes.

One is the scarcity of accessible truck parking. A study published in Accident Analysis & Prevention reveals that most crashes in which a trucker’s drowsiness is to blame occur at least 20 miles from rest areas or truck stops. Another issue is distracted driving, especially texting and driving. While some truck fleet owners have installed driver-assist features to keep their employees safe, the features could backfire by making truckers complacent.

Commercial fleet owners will likely face a truck accident claim if trucker negligence is to blame. However, a crash victim may want a lawyer to negotiate with the trucking company’s own legal team. If a settlement is not reached, or if the other side offers an unreasonably low amount, the victim can discuss litigation with the lawyer. Before this, the lawyer could ensure a strong case by hiring accident investigators and other professionals.