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FMCSA proposes changes to hours-of-service rules for truckers

In August 2018, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking that laid out the various revisions it plans to make to commercial truck drivers' hours-of-service regulations. The FMCSA is now asking for comments. These proposed changes should be of interest to truckers in West Virginia and throughout the U.S.

The current 100 air-mile exemption for short-haul truck drivers is 14 hours on duty, but the FMCSA is proposing to change it to 12 hours to make the rule consistent with rules for long-haul truckers. The agency is also considering allowing truckers up to two more on-duty hours when they encounter adverse driving conditions (the current limit is 14 on-duty hours a day).

Furthermore, the organization may revise the current requirement that drivers take a 30-minute break after eight consecutive hours on duty. It could also reinstate the option for drivers with sleeper berth compartments to split up their 10 mandatory hours of rest in between shifts.

Petitions filed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and TruckerNation.org request relief from hours-of-service rules. The first petitions to give truckers one rest break of up to three hours for every 14 on-duty hours. The second petitions to let truckers use multiple off-duty periods of at least three hours instead of the 10-hour rest break requirement.

One indirect purpose of the hours-of-service regulations is to prevent drowsy driving among truckers. Oftentimes, truckers will push on to meet deadlines. If a semi-trucking accident can be attributed to the trucker's negligence, a victim may be able to file a personal injury claim against the trucking company. It will most likely take a lawyer, however, to negotiate with the company for a settlement. After a case evaluation, a lawyer could hire third parties to gather evidence in preparation for negotiations.

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