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Trucking hours of service debate continues

A few days ago, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published a final rule adopting the provisions of its 2007 interim final rule, increasing the maximum driving time from 10 to 11 hours per day, out of 14 hours on duty.

According to a report by Jill Dunn on e-Trucker.com, the FMCSA and American Trucking Association — whom some cynics may charge are joined at the hip — claim that large truck crash, injury and fatality rates have reached the lowest point since the USDOT began recording statistics.

The Teamsters Union, by contrast, claims that the percentage of fatal crashes resulting from driver fatigue rose 20 percent in 2005 from 2004.

Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook says that DOT statistics show that deaths among large trucks occupants increased from 726 to 805 from 2003 to 2006. She also points out that the newest HOS rule does not require electronic on-board recorders which are required in Europe.

A determined advocate can prove anything with statistics. But based on the common sense of humanity, it seems like common sense that any driver is more fatigued and more accident prone in the eleventh hour of driving.

Ken Shigley has served as chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Litigation Institute, co-sponsored by the Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina Trial Lawyers Associations. He is on the National Advisory Board for the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America, and is a frequent national seminar speaker for the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice. A member of the Million Dollar Advocates, he has successfully tried trucking accident cases to multimillion dollar verdict. He has lectured on trucking litigation topics at continuing legal education programs both at home in Georgia and in Nashville, New Orleans and St. Louis, and is scheduled to do so in Chicago this fall. A Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, he is also a Master of the Lamar Inn of Court at Emory Law School, a faculty member for ten years at the Emory University Law School Trial Techniques Program, and is Secretary of the 40,000 member State Bar of Georgia.