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FMCSA may issue changes to truckers' 14-hour clock

Commercial truck drivers in Kentucky will want to know about a proposal to change certain hours of service rules. A year earlier, truckers saw the overturning of rules that allowed only one 34-hour restart per week and that required them to have two early morning periods. The new proposal is now targeting the mandate that all truckers take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of every shift.

The proposal comes in the form of a petition from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. The agency is asking the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to allow truckers to pause their 14-hour clock for up to three consecutive hours. This would overthrow the 30-minute break mandate as well as the requirement that 14-hour daily clocks never stop. However, the OOIDA does not ask for a change to the rule that drivers take 10 off-duty hours before their next shift.

The OOIDA requests these changes as a way to create greater flexibility, especially since truckers have varying physical capabilities. Being able to stop the clock can encourage truckers to stop when they are fatigued and not continue when there are adverse weather conditions.

The FMCSA has been conducting feasibility studies regarding split-sleeper berth options. While these may help improve highway safety, it seems likely that the FMCSA will not be enacting changes anytime soon.

Driver fatigue is a major cause of truck accidents, and trucking companies can be held liable for any injuries that their employees cause to other drivers. Victims will want to speak with an accident attorney about filing a claim; he or she could bring in accident reconstruction experts, photographers, and other third parties to build up proof of negligence. The attorney can then negotiate with the trucking company's own team of lawyers, sidestepping every aggressive tactic in pursuit of a fair settlement.

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