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Groups jockey to adjust safety rules for commercial truck drivers

Thousands of Illinois families depend on the services provided by over-the-road truckers. These individuals transport essential goods from all over the world to local retail outlets. Although commercial trucking is vital to our economy and daily life, it's critical for drivers to carefully follow the safety regulations put in place to reduce the frequency of truck accidents.

In an effort to make deliveries expediently, employers might be tempted to push drivers to spend many, many consecutive hours on the road, despite federal regulations governing the amount of time truckers can do so. Right now, there is an ongoing legal battle to determine exactly how many hours can log on any given day or week.

Under current regulations, drivers are allowed to log 11 consecutive hours on the road and are then required to take a break. Beyond that, when a truck driver meets his or her weekly limit of hours, they are required to rest for a total of 34 hours. The idea is that this will prevent driver fatigue, which is a leading cause of accidents.

When the existing regulations were renewed in 2012, public safety groups filed a claim to adjust these numbers downward. They believe that the safety of drivers and other motorists is best preserved if the maximum number of consecutive hours on the road is reduced to eight and rules surrounding the 34-hour rest and restart period are strengthened. At this time, the suggested rule changes are being stalled in federal court.

Unfortunately, changes in the current regulations for truck drivers' logged hours will not prevent every instance of driver fatigue. By knowingly violating regulations and spending far too many hours on the road, truck drivers create a serious accident risk.

When a person becomes involved in a truck accident, it may be critical that the driver's hour logs are thoroughly investigated to determine if there are any inconsistencies. If it's found that driver fatigue and an excessive amount of time behind the wheel contributed to an accident, then drivers or their employers could be held responsible in civil court.

Source: Land Line, "Groups call for delay in next changes to hours-of-service regs," Jami Jones, Jan. 31, 2013

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