Proposed Changes to Tractor-Trailer Regulations
Charlotte, NC Personal Injury Lawyer
The U.S. House Appropriations Committee is considering a fiscal year 2016 transportation funding bill that contains two controversial provisions that affects the requirements for tractor-trailers. The first deals with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) 34-hour restart rule, which was suspended by Congress on December 16, 2014. The second is a provision that would allow larger tractor-trailers on the interstate highway system and other highways.
34-hour Restart Rule
The FMCSA promulgates regulations governing hours of service for tractor-trailers. One of these regulations, which took effect on July 13, 2013, is a 34-hour restart provision. Drivers are not allowed to drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty. This must include two periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. home terminal time and may only be used once per week, or 168 hours, measured from the beginning of the previous restart. However, in December 2014, Congress suspended enforcement of this new 34-hour restart period.
The goal of the rule was to reduce excessive work hours that increased the risk of fatigue-related crashes. To reduce fatigue, the rule limits the maximum number of hours per day and week that the drivers can work. It reduces a driver’s average maximum allowable hours of work per week from 82 hours to 70 hours — a 15 percent reduction.
The 2016 transportation funding bill contained a provision stating that before the FMCSA’s 34-hour restart rule is reinstated, a study ordered by Congress of the impacts of the rule must address whether the rule has safety benefits and is better for drivers in terms of fatigue, health, longevity, and work schedules.
Currently, twin trailers are limited to 28 feet in size to be allowed to operate on the interstate system. In eighteen states, they have been grandfathered and allow 33-foot trailers to operate in tandem. A provision in the 2016 transportation funding bill would increase the maximum length of twin trailers to 33 feet, which proponents claim would allow trucking companies to reduce the number of rigs on the road and allow for more efficiency in hauling the surge of e-commerce shipments. It could also be a boon to less-than-truckload carriers, who could see potential capacity increase 10 feet, or 18 percent.
On the other hand, opponents argue that larger tractor-trailers will mean greater damage to U.S. surface transportation infrastructure, more congestion, and a significant environmental impact. Additionally, multi-trailer trucks already have a higher fatal crash rate than single trailer trucks. North Carolina Congressman David Price on the House Appropriations Committee wrote a letter to the Truck Safety Coalition opposing the changes. The Obama administration opposes this provision, stating that the Department of Transportation is currently conducting a comprehensive truck size and weight limits study, and any changes in size and weight limits should be informed by this study.
Crashes involving large trucks killed 3,921 people in the U.S. in 2012, and trucking fatalities have increased in each of the past four years. Compared to single-trailer trucks, twin trailers are 32 percent more often involved in fatal crashes and 200 percent more likely to be in interstate highway crashes.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a large truck accident, the personal injury attorneys at Bice Law, LLC can help you seek compensation for your injuries. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.
Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm of Bice Law
The personal injury firm of Bice Law will examine your case to determine the type and amount of damages that your injury warrants, including payments for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability. We’ll determine whether an out-of-court settlement or trial is the best strategy to obtain maximum benefits for you or your family. If you have suffered injury or harm because of someone else’s actions, take the first step to protect your legal rights – contact the personal injury firm of Bice Law serving both North and South Carolina. You only have a limited time after your injury to file a claim, so act quickly. Call 877-BICE-877 today or submit an online request to get a free consultation with a personal injury attorney. We serve families across both North Carolina and South Carolina.