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Trucker hour-of-service rules could be relaxed

Truck driver fatigue is a major problem on highways in Oklahoma and throughout the United States. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration statistics indicate that there were 4,237 fatal accidents involving large trucks in 2017, which is 10% more than the previous year. Of those fatal crashes, 60 involved truckers who were either fatigued or asleep while behind the wheel of their big rig. Despite this, the Associated Press reports that the federal government is planning to relax hours-of-service rules for truckers, potentially making it easier for them to drive longer hours.

Federal regulations mandate the number of hours that truck drivers can be on duty each day. Under current rules, truckers can only drive 11 hours during a 14-hour shift. They must also take a half-hour break sometime during the first eight hours they are on the road and clock off for a minimum of 10 consecutive hours before starting their next shift. The intention of these rules is to keep drivers fresh and alert while they are operating their vehicles.

However, trucking industry lobbyists claim these rules are too restrictive and have worked for years to get them loosened. Previous administrations have chosen not to change the rules, but the Trump administration appears ready to act. According to a representative of the FMCSA, the White House's Office of Management and Budget is currently reviewing the proposed changes, the details of which have not yet been released.

Fatigue-related truck accidents can cause a variety of serious injuries, including broken bones and spine and traumatic head injuries. In order to receive compensation for their medical costs and other damages, victims of truck crashes may need to file a personal injury lawsuit against the truck driver who caused the crash. A successful claim could help someone obtain the compensation he or she needs to recover.

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