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Proposed change in truck driving hours of service rule

Truck drivers in Virginia and around the country may be able to take advantage of a change in an hours of service rule if a proposal by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is implemented. Currently, truck drivers are on a 14-hour clock that requires them to take a half hour of rest during the first eight hours. The proposal will allow drivers to stop the clock for up to three hours for a rest break, but they would not be required to take the 30-minute break.

According to the OOIDA, this would improve highway safety. The organization says the rules as presently written are inflexible and do not account for the fact that individual drivers will have varying capabilities. It also says the rules are needlessly complex. There is a requirement that drivers take 10 hours off consecutively prior to the next shift, and that would remain unchanged under the proposal from OOIDA.

The organization has filed its petition with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The FMCSA may look into a reintroduction of flexible hours of service. Known as split sleeper options, this flexibility would permit drivers to segment their duty time. However, any changes in this direction are several years away.

Fatigue can be a serious safety problem for truck drivers. In some cases, it may lead to a trucking accident. These havepotential to be more serious than car accidents because of the size of a truck and its inability to slow down or maneuver as easily as a car. Accidents may also occur due to trucking company negligence, faulty equipment, driver error and for a number of other reasons. If a person is injured in an accident with a truck, the driver and the trucking company may be held liable. This means the injured person might be eligible for compensation to cover medical bills and other expenses.

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