Last month, the car accident attorneys of Passen & Powell wrote with our predictions regarding the soon-to-be-announced hours-of-service rules we expected from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Now, we are pleased to report that the new rules, which will benefit both drivers and the general public, have been formally proposed.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (under whose umbrella the FMSCA resides) announced the proposed rules with fanfare, and focused on the goal of keeping overworked, tired commercial drivers off the road. As Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated ,“[a] fatigued driver has no place behind the wheel of a large commercial truck. We are committed to an hours-of-service rule that will help create an environment where commercial truck drivers are rested, alert and focused on safety while on the job.” Our experienced auto accident attorneys echo those sentiments, and hope that the new rules will move us, as a nation, closer to this important goal of improved motor vehicle safety.
Although the FMCSA does “favor” a newly reduced rule allowing a driver to be on the road for 10 hours each day (instead of the current 11), the proposed rules leave this amendment open for comment by the public. This amendment is thus not yet formally proposed.
The new rule also tightens the “restart” portion of the HOS rules. The restart provision allows commercial drivers (and their employers) to “restart” their workweek after a mandated rest period, thus allowing them to again drive the maximum weekly hours. The new rules keep the old restart period of 34 hours. They now, however, require that this 34-hour period must include two consecutive nights where the driver is off duty from midnight to 6:00 a.m. Moreover, drivers can only “restart” their work week once in any seven-day period.
The FMCSA was required to propose a new rule by a court settlement agreement, although the details
of the rule’s contents were not a part of the settlement. That same agreement requires a new HOS rule to be finalized by July 26 of this year.
For those interested in learning further details of the newly proposed rules, a copy of the rulemaking proposal is available on FMCSA’s Web site at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/HOS. The public, and any interested parties, now have 60 days to comment on the proposal (dating from publication on December 29, 2010).
For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago car accident attorney at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.