Recently, the truck accident involving Tracy Morgan and his colleagues shined an important light on truck safety. The truck driver who hit the vehicle that Morgan was travelling in had been awake for an extremely long time, and while most of that time was not considered his duty time, the incident raised awareness for truck driver fatigue and the safety issues it can cause.
Tired drivers have been around since the beginning of the trucking industry, and unfortunately, these drivers are often involved in accidents. The laws surrounding the hours that truck drivers can operate are known as Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations, and recently, changes have left the industry firmly divided. While many outside the industry have praised the new rules, most drivers and companies argue that these rules force drivers to be on the road during rush hour and bad weather, making for inefficient schedules and an increased risk of accidents.
Exemptions Abound in the Land of HOS Regulations
While driver fatigue has always been a problem, the HOS regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have also been problematic, requiring several overhauls and studies as ideas and opinions change. While the end goal was always safety, it appears that several carriers have been able to apply for—and receive—exemptions to various sections of the HOS regulations.
At the beginning of this month, two trucking companies that deliver fireworks were given an exemption to drive beyond their 14th duty hour window to ensure that they can return home following 4th of July shows. Trucks that haul bees and government trucks hauling radioactive material were granted an exemption from a rule that requires a 30 minute rest break in order to protect their cargo. Trucks hauling livestock, oversize or overweight trucks…the exemption list goes on.
The exemptions themselves are not a problem—each hauler must submit a request with sufficient evidence that it is necessary and safe to be exempt from the regulation, and the FMCSA investigates each case thoroughly. The problem is that the sheer number of exemptions required to permit safe operation shows that the HOS regulations require a vast overhaul.
If you have been hurt by a fatigued truck driver, the fault may lie much deeper than the driver alone. Contact Augusta truck accident attorney Chris Hudson today to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve from the party responsible for your damages.