The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is responsible for implementing hours-of-service rules for commercial truck drivers. In August 2018, the agency published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking listing several potential changes to the HOS rules. Truckers and the owners of truck fleets in West Virginia may be happy to see some of the changes under consideration. Below is a summary of them.
First, the FMCSA is planning to make an exception to its current 14 on-duty hour limitation: it may allow two extra hours to truckers who are faced with bad driving conditions. It also plans to revise the rule that a 30-minute break be taken after eight consecutive on-duty hours. Truckers with a sleeper berth compartment may again be allowed to split up their 10 hours of mandatory rest in between shifts.
The agency may also change the 100 air-mile short-haul exemption from 14 hours on duty to 12 to be consistent with rules for long-haul drivers. It is considering two petitions, one from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the other from TruckerNation.org.
The first petition involves giving every trucker a rest break of up to three consecutive hours during their 14-hour shift. The other is for letting truckers use multiple off-duty periods of at least three hours instead of having them always take 10 consecutive hours of rest.
The FMCSA welcomes comments on these proposed rule changes. Any rule changes can affect trucker behavior behind the wheel and thus affect the rate of truck crashes. If truckers let themselves drive drowsy and cause a crash, their company may be held liable for the other party’s vehicle damage, medical expenses and more. As catastrophic injuries are likely to be involved, victims may want legal guidance for their claim. The lawyer might handle negotiations for a fair settlement.