Federal regulators say that trucker fatigue is causing fatal accidents, even as the number of fatal truck crashes has dropped in recent years after a major overhaul of rules that took effect in 2004. A lawsuit in federal court is accusing trucker Betty Tucker of pulling onto the interstate from the shoulder and smashing into Julio Rentas Jr’s semi-tractor trailer along an open stretch of interstate 95 in Flagler County. The lawsuit accuses Tucker of having driven a grueling 19 consecutive hours before the accident, causing a serious safety problem. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed reducing the allowable driving time for interstate truckers in order to prevent such accidents from occurring.
The new law would require truckers to reduce driving time from 11 hours in each 14-hour shift to 10 hours. Truckers would also be required to take more time off duty between seven-day driving stretches. The federal regulators approved a rule that by 2012 interstate truckers who repeatedly violate hour limits to install electronic devices that replace traditional paper logs. In the new proposal, interstate truckers would be required to install recording devices even if they have not been caught cheating on their paper logs.
Truckers used to be able to work and take breaks as they needed, but the 2004 rules required that once drivers started a shift, they needed to stop working 14 hours later. The stricter rules have contributed to a reduction in fatal crashes. A report from the safety administration shows the number of fatal crashes nationwide involving large trucks dropped 20 percent from 2008, to 2,987.
An Orlando injury lawyer can provide guidance if you have been injured in a truck accident.