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Rise in trucking deaths blamed by some on inflexible HOS rules

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is responsible for the rules that are meant to ensure commercial trucker safety. One of these rules states that all commercial truckers must take a 30-minute break after eight consecutive hours of driving. While this may seem like a reasonable rule, it has been the subject of many comments and criticisms by truckers throughout California and the rest of the country.

First, it should be known that large-truck fatalities rose to a 29-year high in 2017. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 4,761 people, including about 1,300 truckers, were killed that year. This was a 9 percent increase from 2016. At the same time, motor vehicle crash fatalities in general went down 2 percent.

Some representatives of the trucking industry partly blame the 30-minute break rule for this increase. According to them, the break can cause delays and lead to truckers choosing to speed in order to meet deadlines. It can also accelerate the onset of fatigue that drivers feel while behind the wheel. The FMCSA is currently reviewing around 5,200 comments on its HOS rules and may consider modifications.

However, the inflexibility of HOS rules is far from the only factor in the increase. A lack of truck stops and rest areas is another concern. Truckers also complain that newer drivers are bringing their bad habits with them, such as texting while driving.

Distracted driving, drowsy driving and speeding are just a few examples of negligent behavior. Someone who is injured by a trucker who commits such negligence may have grounds for an injury claim. Truck accidents often result in catastrophic injuries requiring life-long medical care, but victims could be reimbursed for these and other expenses. It might take a lawyer, however, to negotiate with the trucking company and litigate if a settlement isn't reached.

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