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How the Feds Undermined Fort Worth Truck Safety

trucknightIn Arlington, Dallas, Fort Worth and throughout Texas, drivers need to know that the risk of fatigued driving collisions has just increased.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rule requiring truckers to take overnight rest breaks after driving for 60 hours over seven days or 70 hours over eight days has now been suspended.

A truck accident lawyer knows that the impairments a fatigued driver experiences are very similar to the impairments that are experienced by a drunk driver.  The suspension of the rest-break rule endangers everyone because it means there may be more overtired truckers on public roads.

FMCSA Rule Suspended Due to Congress

The FMCSA's rule required that truckers take a 34-hour rest break to "reset" the clock after they had exceeded their maximum weekly drive time. The rest break had to include two periods of time between the hours of 1:00 AM and 5:00 AM. The goal was to make sure truckers got a few good nights of sleep.

Many professional trucking groups didn't like this rule because they said it forced them to be on the road during busier times. The rule was challenged in court, but the FMCSA won and it remained in effect... at least until the federal government became informed.

Senator Susan Collins first tried to suspend the FMCSA rule back in June, introducing an amendment to eliminate the overnight rest break requirements. The amendment was not successful at that time.

In December, however, the amendment was tacked on to a must-pass bill dubbed "cromnibus" because it consisted of an omnibus budget for 11 out of 12 federal government departments and a continuing resolution funding the Department of Homeland Security for a short period of time.  Because a budget has to pass to keep the government opened, lawmakers agreed to the bill with the amendment changing the FMCSA rules. It was signed into law by the president and the FMCSA website thus suspended the overnight rest break rule.

This decision has consequences. The American Psychological Association says that the human body has evolved to be more active in the daytime and to wind down and become more relaxed at night time. This natural process is called the circadian rhythm.  When someone sleeps during the day and works at night, the sleep during the day does not make up for the fact that is circadian rhythm is not aligned properly. As a result, someone who sleeps during the day and not at night is likely to be less alert, have impaired cognitive function and have slower reaction times. These are very dangerous characteristics for a truck driver to have.

Although the federal government has changed the rules, truck drivers and trucking companies still owe it to the public to make responsible choices. This means truckers who are tired should get off the roads. Truck drivers should also consider getting sleep at night even though they are no longer required to by law.

If you or a loved one has been injured contact Coby L. Wooten, Attorney at Law, P.C. at 800-994-1966 or visit www.cobywootenlaw.com. Serving Dallas, Arlington, Fort Worth, TX and surrounding areas.