After a Kentucky truck accident in which people are injured or lose their lives, the immediate reaction on the part of the victims and those left behind is to blame the trucker and the company that employs him or her. This will frequently result in a legal filing for compensation that can cost the company significantly. Although it is terrible when people are negatively impacted by a truck wreck, that does not necessarily mean that the trucker and the company are at fault. One factor that is often cited in a collision is the amount of time the trucker spent on the road. Understanding recent changes to the hour-of-service (HOS) rules is a fundamental part of lodging an effective defense.
Drivers granted greater flexibility with new HOS rules
To give drivers more options with their driving time, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented new rules at the end of September. There has been disagreement as to whether the changes are positive or negative. With the short-haul exemption, drivers are no longer relegated to 12 hours or 115 miles on the road. Before the changes, if drivers went beyond this limit, they needed to install an Electronic Logging Device (ELD). That is no longer the case. For short hauls, the exemption is believed to benefit drivers and their productivity.
For adverse driving conditions, drivers can now extend their time on duty. An example used was if there was a block in the road and the driver was relatively close to the destination with insufficient time to account for the road to be cleared and reach its endpoint. Drivers now have greater freedom to continue driving in such a circumstance. For sleeper berths, drivers can split their 10-hour break if it is a minimum of two hours off duty and they are in the berth for seven consecutive hours. Their 14-hour driving window is not impacted.
Truck companies should understand the rules when facing a claim
Truckers violating the rules is a commonly cited reason for a truck accident. With these new rules in place, companies can formulate a defense against these allegations if the driver was following the rule and there is evidence based on the ELD. Companies are undoubtedly sympathetic when there is a crash with injuries and fatalities. Still, that does not mean the driver or the company was automatically at fault. Assessing the case and the circumstances surrounding it can be helpful with trucking defense and part of that is understanding the HOS rules. Calling for help when confronted with a claim is essential.