It was the middle of August when the Trump administration made strides to relax the federal guidelines governing the length of time truck drivers can be on the road. The trucking industry has been pushing for this type of move for years, while safety advocates have been just as staunchly against it.
So, what do the new laws say, and how could it affect the safety of Houston’s roads?
Understanding Possible Changes to Truckers’ Driving Limits
Currently, federal regulations limit truckers to driving for only 11 hours within a 14-hour period. Once drivers are off-duty, they must remain off-duty for 10 consecutive hours before they can go back on the clock. If a trucker is going to drive for more than eight hours, he or she must take a 30-minute break within that time.
Under the proposed changes, the Trump administration wants to allow drivers to take a break while they are not driving, but are still technically on-duty. For example, the trucking industry has long complained that drivers get a break when cargo is loaded and unloaded. This is often done by a different company and can take up to one hour or more. However, those same truckers must still take another break because they were on-duty at the time of the unloading.
Drivers would also be able to pause the 14-hour driving window for breaks up to three hours long. They would still be required to take a break of 10 consecutive hours at the end of their shift. Pausing that window would allow drivers to still get as many miles in as possible because it’s only the time spent driving that would matter.
Short-haul drivers would also be exempt from logging their time electronically if they return to the same location within 14 hours, instead of the 12 hours the law currently dictates. Short-haul drivers could also travel up to 150 miles, instead of the 100 they are currently limited to.
While the trucking industry has been pushing for similar changes for years, safety advocates aren’t so sure. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has recently found in a study that short-haul drivers who do not log their driving time are 383 percent more likely to get into a crash than drivers who do log their time.
The Risk of Violating the Truck Driving Limits
The current federal guidelines that are in place limiting the number of time truckers spend on the road are important. Truck drivers are generally very safe, but they are no more immune to exhaustion and drowsiness behind the wheel than anyone else. When truck drivers are feeling the pressure of tight deadlines, they will often work long hours trying to cover more miles. This causes truckers to become unfocused and unable to concentrate, and they may engage in dangerous behaviors that result in a crash.
Need Legal Advice? Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney
Truck accidents are some of the worst crashes seen on Houston’s roads. Federal laws are an important component in regulating the trucking industry and keeping all drivers on the road safe.
If you’ve been hurt in a trucking accident, contact our Houston truck accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Hilda Sibrian™ today. We want to help you claim the maximum compensation you need to recover. Schedule your free consultation now.