Hours of service rules linked to rising truck accident deaths

Motor vehicle accident fatalities in Texas and around the country fell by 2% in 2017, but the number of road users killed in crashes involving commercial vehicles rose by a worrying 9% to 4,761. That is the highest truck accident death toll in 29 years, and 72% of those killed were traveling in passenger vehicles that were struck by tractor-trailers. The sophisticated safety systems fitted to modern commercial vehicles do not seem to be enough to prevent accident deaths from rising even higher, and some road safety advocacy groups say federal hours-of-service rules could be the reason why.

Hours-of-service rules limit the time that truck drivers can spend behind the wheel. The rules are imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to prevent drowsy driving accidents, but critics of the rules say that the 30-minute break that truck drivers must take after eight hours on the road encourages dangerous driving. They say that truck drivers often imperil other road users by driving too fast because they are desperate to complete their journeys within eight hours.

The FMCSA concedes that excessive speed is the leading cause of truck and commercial vehicle accidents, but the agency does not believe that its hours-of-service rules or the mandatory 30-minute break after eight hours of driving are responsible. However, the agency is said to be considering changes to the rules after receiving more than 5,200 comments from the public.

Truck accidents are usually investigated by the authorities as the injuries suffered are often catastrophic. This means that experienced personal injury attorneys may be able to find evidence of negligence, such as excessive speed and hours-of-service violations, by reading police reports and accident investigations. Eyewitness testimony is also used as evidence in truck accident cases and memory fades, which is why victims who are considering a lawsuit may be wise to act sooner rather than later.