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Rise in truck crash deaths may be due to conflict with HOS rules

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that large-truck fatalities in the U.S. went up 9 percent from 4,369 in 2016 to 4,761 in 2017. About 1,300 of these were truckers while the rest were occupants of the other vehicle. Truckers and truck fleet owners in Wyoming should know that some are attributing this increase to conflicts with current hours-of-service rules.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires commercial truckers to take a 30-minute rest break after eight consecutive hours of driving. In all, truckers are allowed 14 hours of service but 11 hours of driving time. Some truckers complain that the 30-minute break only increases their fatigue and that they would be better off driving 11 hours straight.

Others speed to try and beat the rule. While speeding remains the leading cause of fatal crashes, it has been factoring in fewer large-truck fatalities for three consecutive years. Distracted driving, aggravated by the use of driver-assist features, and other forms of negligence may be behind the rise in fatalities as well.

Some truck fleet owners are turning to driver analytics to monitor the behavior of their employees; such software can record things like seat belt use, hard braking and speeding. Many truckers believe that the solution lies in revising the FMCSA's 30-minute break requirement and in creating more rest areas.

Whatever changes arise in the future, truckers are still responsible for keeping their vehicles under control. If they become negligent and cause a trucking accident, their employer may have to face a claim. Victims who have reached maximum medical improvement might want to have their case evaluated by a lawyer. Personal injury lawyers may have a network of crash investigators and other experts who help build up a case. Lawyers may then handle all settlement negotiations.

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