New Rules for Truck Drivers Aimed at Preventing Accidents Caused by Drivers Falling Asleep at the Wheel

A driver of a pick-up truck apparently fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a McDonald’s drive-through order board on Savi Ranch Parkway in Orange County. According to the California Highway Patrol, the truck sped off the westbound 91 Freeway through the Yorba Linda Boulevard off- ramp and ended up in the drive-through. The driver was taken to the hospital, although his injuries did not appear to be serious.

This past May, a tractor-trailer crashed through a bridge railing on US-395 near Bridgeport, CA and caught on fire. The driver was killed.

The truck driver’s rest time increased by the new trucking rules

A survey done some years ago revealed that almost half of the long-distance truck drivers reported falling asleep at the wheel of the truck, and more than a quarter had fallen asleep at the wheel in the year prior to the study. While the number of fatal truck accidents has declined by about 30 percent in the 10 years from when the survey was conducted, there were still almost 4,000 deaths in trucking accidents in 2011, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

This past July, the Department of Transportation imposed new rules on trucking companies and drivers. The intent of the rules is to reduce the amount of truck accidents caused by driver fatigue. The new rules:

  • Set the truck driver’s maximum workweek at 70 hours, replacing the previous cap of 82 hours
  • Mandate the start of workweek must follow a 34-hour break, and a 30-minute break must be taken within the first eight hours of driving
  • Introduce a safety rating program, where shippers can check out a trucking company’s safety record before using it.

The American Trucking Association protested the new rules, claiming they will add congestion to rush-hour traffic and increase shipping costs. They challenged the rules in court, but the rules are currently in effect. If you were injured in an accident with a truck, call a California truck accident attorney to learn about your legal rights.

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