Lieberman, Ryan & Forrest, L.L.C.
Somerset County
Hunterdon County

FMCSA and DOT at odds over trucker drive time limits

Most people in New Jersey have seen, read or heard reports about tragic accidents that have happened in which tractor-trailers have collided with regular-sized passenger vehicles, motorcycles, pedestrians or bicyclists. It is not hard to understand how people in other vehicles, on bikes or on foot face serious disadvantages when these events happen. This is one of the reasons that the government has developed a series of rules designed to improve trucker and public safety.

Combatting fatigue among truck drivers has been a priority for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. In the past few years, the agency has developed and instituted its Hours of Service rule which outlines provisions for the length of time a trucker may work each day and each week. There are also limits on how many working hours may be spent driving, how long break periods must last and when breaks must be taken.

These rules are now coming under scrutiny as many truckers and companies are alleging that drivers are forced to make unacceptable compromises in order to remain in compliance with the FMCSA regulations. The PBS News Hour recently reported that the U.S. Department of Transportation has put forth the notion that the Hours of Service rule should be relaxed in some manner to accommodate the real-life needs of truckers.

It is unclear at this time exactly how the DOT may want to revise the Hours of Service rule but there is concern that any change may expose the public to a level of risk that is unacceptable.



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