Recent Spending Bill Rolls Back Hours of Service Rules for Truck Drivers – Could Lead to More Fatigued Driving

Dec 18, 2014

Among the many provisions in the recent spending bill passed by Congress was one that affects all of us who drive on the nations highways. It rolled back, for a year, recent changes to the truck driving hours of service rules. The most important change is eliminating the requirement that any 34-hour restart period include two 1AM to 5AM rest periods.

The requirement being rolled back was based upon scientific studies that showed that driver performance was impacted not just by the amount of hours of rest, but also by the time such rest was received. Recent studies have confirmed that drivers function at a higher level after the second night of rest. This safety rule has long been a target of the trucking industry. As a result of this change and others in the spending bill, drivers will also be permitted to drive for up to 82 hours a week, an increase from the 70-hour maximum that exists under current law.

As an attorney who has represented people injured or killed by fatigued drivers, I am disappointed to see this change. The current rules reflected a great deal of scientific study and a fair compromise between the needs of the trucking industry and the need to protect the general motoring public.

The change also creates more confusion, which makes it more difficult for drivers to keep up with the rules and for individuals or families to seek justice when they are harmed by unsafe drivers. It will continue to be important for people to seek out experienced attorneys who are familiar with these laws and have experience exposing the dangerous operating practices that lead to many truck wrecks.