The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration strictly enforces rules that limit how long semi-tractor trailer drives can spend behind the wheel, but trade groups such as the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association believe that hours of service regulations could actually be making the roads in Oklahoma and around the country more dangerous. The OOIDA has petitioned the FMCSA to revise these rules by allowing drivers to split their 14-hour shifts into segments.
The current hours of service regulations, which date back to 2013, require drivers to take a break of at least 30 minutes during the first eight hours of their shifts, but any further breaks they take are not deducted from the 14-hour time limit laid down by the FMCSA. The OOIDA wants the mandatory 30-minute break eliminated, and they have asked the agency to allow drivers to pause their 14-hour clocks while they rest for up to three hours.
According to the OOIDA, the proposed rule change would allow drivers to rest when they feel fatigued and plan their journeys strategically to avoid heavy traffic. The trade group also says that drivers would be more likely to pull over in poor weather if their breaks did not reduce the amount of time they can spend behind the wheel. The OOIDA's petition claims that the current regulations encourage drivers to remain on duty even when they are tired so they can cover as much distance as possible before their time limits are up.
Fatigued truck drivers sometimes take no evasive action before crashing, and the accidents they cause often result in catastrophic injuries. Experienced personal injury attorneys may scrutinize hours of service records carefully when gathering evidence that could be used to establish recklessness in truck accident lawsuits, and they could also find signs of negligence in police reports and information found on semi-tractor trailer black box-type devices.