If the Trump Administration gets its way, truck drivers in California and across the U.S. will be able to work longer shifts. However, the National Transportation Safety Board says that truck driver fatigue is a major hazard on U.S. roads.
Under current federal rules, truckers can work a maximum of 14 hours per day. Of those hours, drivers can only spend 11 behind the wheel. They're also required to take a 30-minute rest break within the first eight hours of their shift, regardless of whether that time was spent driving or loading and unloading cargo. However, with the support of the White House, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration wants to allow truck drivers to work for up to 17 hours per day and only require breaks for those who have driven for eight straight hours. While drivers would still be restricted to 11 hours a day behind the wheel under most circumstances, they would be allowed to drive an additional two hours if heavy traffic or inclement weather caused them to fall behind schedule.
The DOT and trucking industry organizations claim these changes would give truck drivers more "flexibility" in their schedules, but the NTSB and other traffic safety experts think the changes will only make drivers more fatigued and lead to more truck accidents. The government is currently accepting public comments on the proposed changes and will make a final decision at a later date. In 2017, there were 4,455 deadly truck and bus accidents on U.S. roadways, which was the highest total since 2007.
When driver fatigue is blamed for a truck accident, an injured victim can file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for medical expenses and other damages. Truck accident victims could learn more about their legal options by contacting a personal injury lawyer for advice.