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FMCSA proposes HOS rule changes, seeks input

In August 2018, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposed some changes to the hours-of-service rules for commercial truck drivers. Truckers and employers in Wyoming should know that the FMCSA is welcoming comments on these proposals. It is conducting public listening sessions at various locations as well.

The following is a brief summary of what those proposed changes are. First, the agency may change the 100 air-mile "short-haul" exemption from 14 to 12 on-duty hours. This will make the rule consistent with that of long-haul truckers. The FMCSA may also create an exception to the current 14-hour on-duty limit, namely, to allow truckers an extra two hours if they encounter bad driving conditions.

A 30-minute break is mandated after eight consecutive on-duty hours, but the agency may revise this as well. It may also reinstate the option for truckers with sleeper berth compartments to split up their required rest break of 10 hours. Two other important proposals were filed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and by TruckerNation.org and are under consideration.

The OOIDA petitions for truckers to get one rest break of up to three consecutive hours during their 14-hour duty. TruckerNation.org petitions for multiple off-duty periods of at least three hours as a possible alternative to the 10-hour rest break. The OOIDA, for its part, has commented favorably on the FMCSA's proposals.

HOS rules are meant to protect truck drivers, if only from themselves. Drowsy driving is a major issue, and if it contributes to a trucking accident, the victim or victims in the other vehicle may have the grounds for a claim. It may be wise to hire a lawyer who deals in personal injury law, though, as the trucking company will have its own team of lawyers working hard to deny any claims. The lawyer might litigate as a last resort.

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