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Hours-of-Service Rules: Truckers Speed, Causing More Accidents in Houston

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An uptick in fatal truck crash rates in recent years may attributable to tractor-trailer operators rushing to take a rest break so that they don’t violate Department of Transportation regulations. The federal hours-of-service rule requires truckers to take a 30-minute break after driving eight hours and restricts them from driving in excess of 11 hours per each 14-hour period.

The most recent statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that the number of fatal tractor-trailer crashes reached a 29-year high in 2017 when 4,761 people died. Approximately 1,300 of those killed were the truckers themselves. The other 72 percent killed were motor vehicle operators. The fatalities that year marked an increase of nearly 400 more than in 2016.

Truckers Speed to Make Up for Lost Time

When asked to comment on the uptick in fatal crashes, a spokesperson with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association commented that many drivers that he’s spoken to reported feeling pressure to recoup time out on the road. He noted that many truckers admitted to increasing their maximum permissible speed on their trucks to recoup time.

Another spokesperson with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) notes that he’s heard from truckers how they speed because there’s a lack of flexibility. He says that he doubts that increases in fatality rates have anything to do with federal hours-of-service regulations though.

For those who doubt that truckers putting their pedal to the metal to get their freight from one point to the next, they should perhaps consider how the number of speeding tickets they’ve been issued has increased in recent years. Speeding continues to be the leading cause of fatal truck crashes.

More seasoned Texas truckers cite younger truckers’ bad or reckless driving habits, distractions from cell phones and fatigue for their increased involvement in fatal crashes. The FMCSA is currently working on driver-assist technology that would help truckers, but not leave them feeling complacent enough that they feel that they can afford to become distracted.

When 18-wheelers and cars crash in Houston, the damage can be catastrophic. Motorists are often left with serious injuries or killed. Medical and funeral expenses can be costly. A truck accidents attorney who is experienced in seeking compensation for driver negligence is who you’ll want to handle your case to ensure that you get the best results.

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