For years, the trucking industry has been trying to change the federal hours of service rules, which dictate how long truckers can remain on the road to reduce the risk of fatigue. Feeling as though the rules were too restrictive, the industry has been lobbying legislators to change the law and give drivers more flexibility. Now, in the wake of the coronavirus, those rules have changed. Drivers can now have more discretion when determining how long they will remain on the road.
Understanding New Guidance for Truckers Amid COVID-19
Truck drivers have received a lot of attention and thanks as they have worked to keep the country running during the pandemic. Truckers deliver the vital goods people need during this uncertain time, including food and medication. Although this may seem like the reason for the changes to trucking law, truthfully, these rules have been up for debate for several years and were up for public comments prior to the pandemic.
In the middle of May, however, the comment period ended and the rules were changed. Three of the changes include:
- Break times: Truckers can now use the time their truck is being loaded as part of their break instead of being required to take a separate break. The Department of Transportation states that this rule change will save $274 million every year.
- Short-hauls: The Department of Transportation is also allowing short-haul truckers to remain on the road for 14 hours instead of 12.
- Adverse weather conditions: The driving time for truckers has also been extended by two hours in the event that drivers have to travel through adverse weather conditions.
While these changes are important, the rule garnering the most attention is the sleeper berth exception.
The Sleeper Berth Exception
Prior to the rule change, truckers had to take a minimum of 10 hours of rest consecutively after driving for 14 hours. Now, drivers can split their rest periods in one of two ways. Truckers can split that rest time into periods of eight hours/two hours or seven hours/three hours. Regardless of how a trucker splits his or her rest time, it will not count against the 14-hour driving window.
Lawmakers say the new rule will allow truckers to take rest when they need to, as opposed to when they are required to by law.
Injured in an Accident? Contact Our Truck Accident Lawyers Today
Everyone is grateful for the hard work of truck drivers these days, as they continue to transport and deliver the goods we all need. Still, even with these new hours of service rule changes, truckers are under a lot of pressure to make deliveries as quickly as possible. When truck drivers operate a commercial motor vehicle while fatigued, they put other motorists lives at risk.
At Burch Law Firm, our dedicated Texas truck accident lawyers have extensive experience handling these complex claims. We know how to investigate these crashes to determine who was liable, and we will fight for the maximum compensation you deserve.
If you have been hurt, call us today or contact us online to schedule a free consultation to learn more about how we can help with your case.