Trucker drive-time rules might be relaxed by DOT

Advocates for the trucking industry have made headway in their efforts to secure relaxed drive-time restrictions on roadways in Georgia and across the country. The Department of Transportation has said it will move to loosen the regulations that limit the number of hours truckers can be on the road. The current form of the rules allows big rig drivers to drive for up to 11 hours during each on-duty period.

On-duty periods are 14 hours long, and truck drivers are required to spend 10 hours in a row off duty between on-duty windows. Drivers who are going to be on the road for more than eight hours are required to take a break for 30 minutes before they get to eight consecutive hours driving. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is charged with enforcing the drive time rules, which were established in their original form during the 1930s.

Those who are opposed to the rule changes say that truckers are already driving enough and relaxing the rules will lead to more fatigued driving accidents. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported that there were 4,657 big rigs involved in fatal traffic accidents during 2017, which represents a 10% increase over the previous year. Of the drivers involved in those crashes, 60 were identified as fatigued or asleep at the time of the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board has said driver fatigue is probably under-reported.

Motor vehicle accidents involving big rigs are often more severe than other accidents because the trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and are often traveling at highway speeds. People who are injured in large truck crashes might be entitled to compensation in the form of money damages. An attorney might be able to help by identifying parties who have liability or by negotiating settlement with insurance companies.

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