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Hours of service rules changes proposed

Truck driver fatigue is a prime cause of catastrophic commercial trucking crashes that cause serious injuries and deaths. Over recent years in my Atlanta-based law practice, I have seen recurring controversy about the rules designed to combat driver fatigue. Well, here we go again.

This week the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released for comment proposed changes in the Hours of Service rules. FMCSA must publish a final rule by July 26.

“A fatigued driver has no place behind the wheel of a large commercial truck,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “We are committed to an hours-of-service rule that will help create an environment where commercial truck drivers are rested, alert and focused on safety while on the job.”

Some of the highlights are:

– Current maximum driving time per day is 11 hours. FMCSA is considering both 10 and 11 hour limits.

– Current maximum on-duty time per day is 14 hours. FMCSA proposes 13 hours.

– On duty time would exclude any time resting in a parked commercial motor vehicle. Ideally, this would be utilized for “power naps” within the driving time window.

For more detail see the FMCSA summary and Notice of Rulemaking.

Ken Shigley is an Atlanta, Georgia, trial attorney. He has been designated a “Super Lawyer” (Atlanta Magazine), one of the “Legal Elite” (Georgia Trend), and rated “AV Preeminent” by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directory. He is author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation & Practice (West, 2010), a Certified Civil Trial Attorney of the National Board of Trial Advocacy and currently president-elect of the 42,000 member State Bar of Georgia. He has extensive experience in litigation and trial of cases involving serious personal injury, wrongful death, trucking accidents, automobile accidents, products liability, premises liability, and insurance. Mr. Shigley is a graduate of Furman University and Emory University Law School. This blog post is subject to our ethical disclaimer.