Cautionary Z’s: Will Newly Adjusted Maximum Weekly Driving Hours Help Reduce Maryland and Virginia Truck Accidents?

Any person who operates a commercial vehicle—whether it is a bus, car, aircraft, truck, train, or boat—is subject to very strict rules involving their duty period and rest minimums.

Many of us have experienced these rules in action while we are at the airport. We may be scheduled for the first flight of the day, and the flight crew for that flight comes to the airport an hour late. The reason for this is that their previous duty period—their last flight of the day before—probably cut into their minimum rest requirements. In order to be legal to fly the next day, their flight schedule (and subsequently yours) must be pushed back to accommodate a set, legal minimum rest period.

While this may be inconvenient to the passengers on the flight, the overall effect of work rules is to keep the men and women responsible for transporting hundreds of people in a fit condition to fly. The same goes for those who drive large, heavy trucks on our roads and highways with us. It is incredibly important that the trucking industry is closely regulated, as these large machines operate at high speeds mere feet away from other cars carrying families.

Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland Truck Accidents: Is Lack of Sleep to Blame?

Last year, the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made an important step in keeping the driving public and truck drivers safe, adjusting the duty period, or hours-of-service (HOS) requirements for commercial drivers. These changes made by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) go into effect on July 1, 2013.

Previous to this change, truck drivers in Maryland and Virginia could work up to 82 hours per week. The new rule restricts drivers to only 70 hours per week, with a maximum daily limit of 11 hours. There are also rest rules in effect for duty periods over eight hours, as well as guidelines for drivers who reach their weekly maximum.

The laws serve many functions to keep all drivers safe, but they also help Maryland and Virginia truck accident lawyers argue your case in an accident that involved driver fatigue. By reducing the weekly minimums by 12 hours, the “grey area” of a fatigue claim shrinks greatly; if he or she goes over the duty limit and hurts you, you have a strong case.

Of course, these laws do impact a driver’s ability to earn money, and many will still try to outwit the system. If you or a loved one has been injured in a Washington, D.C. area truck accident, call the Capital District, Virginia, and Maryland truck accident attorneys at Lewis & Tompkins today at 202.296.0666 for a free consultation.

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