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Hours of Service Rules Challenged by Trucking Associations

When the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposed new restrictions on the hours of service a truck driver could operate, there was no doubt there would be controversy. Trucking industry insiders believe that the new rules are needlessly restrictive and will not make a significant difference in the number of truck accidents. The American Trucking Association (ATA) is petitioning the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to review the validity of the newly proposed rules.

The new rules are designed to reduce the number of truck drivers who drive while fatigued. Tired drivers are a serious threat to themselves and to other motorists. By further limiting the hours a truck driver can work in a seven day period, and by further requiring a rest period during every eight hour shift, the FMCSA is attempting to ensure that drivers are not forced to operate their trucks in a state of exhaustion.

The trucking group claims that the FMCSA did not follow proper procedure before making the rules change. The new rules will certainly place a financial burden on trucking companies and independent truck drivers. With fewer driving hours available to them, they will either need to hire additional drivers or limit the range they cover with their shipments. The ATA also claims that the changes are unnecessary due to the progress that has already been made in reducing trucking accidents.

Fatigued driving is a dangerous problem. While there may be other ways to ensure that drivers are well-rested, the FMCSA restrictions of hours of service will certainly give drivers more down time in which to rest. The question comes down to how much value should be placed on saving lives. At what point does saving lives become cost prohibitive? Apparently, the ATA believes we have already reached that point.

Source: Claims Journal, "Trucking Industry Fights Obama Rules on Driver Fatigue," by Andrew G. Simpson, 17 February 2012

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