As a Georgia trucking accident trial attorney based in Atlanta, one of the things I always look at after a catastrophic crash is whether a truck driver was dangerously fatigued due, in part, to violation of hours of service rules. It looks like the rules may change yet again.
Prior to 2003, interstate truckers could drive 10 hours out of a 15 hour work day.
Since 2003, truckers have been allowed to drive 11 consecutive hours a day and work up to 14 hours, followed by a 10-hour off-duty period.
Now the safety advocacy group Public Citizen is pushing for a rule limiting truckers to driving 8 hours in a 12 hour work day.
This week, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration submitted its proposed truck driver hours of service rule to the Office of Management and Budget. Details were not released, but most expect some shortening of driving and work hours.
While fatigue from long hours on the road contributes to serious accidents, trucking industry representatives say that shortening the work day will drive up shipping costs and that increasing the number of trucks on the road will increase safety risks.
Two things we can count on are that the controversy will continue in some form far into the future and that those who want to cheat will find ways to cheat.
Ken Shigley, author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation & Practice, is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, he has been listed as a “Super Lawyer” (Atlanta Magazine), among the “Legal Elite” (Georgia Trend Magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers . He practices law at the Atlanta law firm of Chambers, Aholt & Rickard, and has broad experience in catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, products liability, spinal cord injury, brain injury and burn injury cases. He is also president-elect of the State Bar of Georgia. This post is subject to our ethical disclaimer.