Trucker hours of service rules were enacted for a reason: to protect against serious trucker accidents which often result in life-threatening injuries and fatalities to people in the other vehicles. But in December, 2014, Congress passed a law suspending two of these regulations, which puts all California drivers and passengers at greater risk.
The Suspended Regulations
One of the most limiting provisions in the 2013 hours of service regulations was the “34-hour restart” rule. Under the rule, truck drivers were allowed to restart their 60 or 70 hours of driving after a 34-hour consecutive break only if it included two 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. driving breaks. They were only permitted to do this restart once during the week.
The purpose of the rule was to limit the long hours truck drivers drive and to limit the late night driving when there is an even greater risk that the driver will be tired. It was created in part after a Walmart trucker caused a devastating accident with actor Tracy Morgan that resulted in serious injuries to Morgan and the death of his friend. The trucker had been awake and driving for more than 24 hours.
Changes Approved by Congress
Although they were in place for less than two years, Congress voted to make the following changes to the 2013 legislation:
- Suspend the requirement that truck drivers take two 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. breaks in their 34-hour restart period.
- Allow truck drivers to use the 34-hour restart break to restart the 60 or 70 hours they’re allowed to drive more than once in a week.
Why This Is Important to You
Truckers who drive long hours without a break and drive late at night cause devastating injuries and deaths in Santa Monica. In 2012, 104,000 people nationwide were injured in crashes with large trucks. 3,921 people were killed in these accidents. A large percentage of the men, women, and children who died were in the vehicles hit by the truck driver.
Relaxing the rules regarding restarting the hours driven during the week and allowing more late-night driving increases the dangers of more big-rig trucks accidents. And it puts Santa Monica and Los Angeles residents, who live in a congested, truck-filled area, more at risk too.
If you or a family member has been hit by a truck driver, we understand how you’re suffering. You don’t have to suffer alone. Tell us about it in the comments or connect with us on Google+.