The trucking industry provides valuable service in this country, moving goods from shore to shore. Along the way, accidents occur. Because of the size and speed of a tractor trailer, collisions between a truck and a car often result in catastrophic injury or death.

In Ohio alone, there were 9,319 truck crashes in 2011. Of those, 5,514 were caused by truck drivers. While many factors contribute to driver error, fatigue directly impacts road awareness, physical agility, reaction time and decision making ability.

Recently the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) made rule changes to try and reduce mistakes made by tired truck drivers. While the effective date of those changes passed in 2012, the final compliance date is July 1 of this year.

Points about the new hours of service (HOS) rule change include the following:

  • Affecting the driver of any vehicle over 10,000 pounds, the maximum daily driving limit of 11 hours remains the same.
  • The maximum weekly driving limit under the new rules is 12 hours less than the previous standard. Instead of an 82 hour week, truck operators of big rigs, primarily long-haul drivers, may now work only 70 hours
  • A truck driver may not operate a semi-truck after eight hours of driving without first taking a 30 minute rest break. The break can be taken anytime during the eight hour window.

Sharing a road with a semi-truck can make any driver nervous. Hopefully these rule changes will provide some confidence that the truck operator in the vehicle next to you is not asleep at the wheel.

If involved in a car, or truck accident, always seek experienced legal advice.