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FMCSA exempts short haul drivers from new HOS rules

Written by Steve Gursten Posted September 14th, 2013

“Short haul” truck drivers traveling less than 150 miles from dispatch base are not required to take 30 minute break after working 8 consecutive hours

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia recently upheld the majority of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) new hours of service rules.

Yet the trucking industry came out with victory.

The regulations include a rule that requires truck drivers to take a 30-minute break after working 8 consecutive hours. This is a mandatory break. But not for “short haul” truck drivers, thanks to the Court of Appeals ruling. A short haul driver is a trucker who drives the freight within 150 miles of his dispatch base.

For more information, take a look at the court decision on the 30-minute rest break provision.

As a lawyer who exclusively helps the victims of preventable truck accidents, I find exempting short haul drivers from this mandatory rest break to be both senseless and dangerous.  When a trucker is fatigued, the distance traveled is irrelevant. A tired and overworked trucker is dangerous behind the wheel of a semi-truck, whether he is driving two miles or 2,000.  And ironically, many studies have shown that most crashes (and I would presume this would include truck accidents) happen within a couple miles of someone’s home or work.

This exclusion is unacceptable, and we hope the FMCSA will keep fighting to protect motorists on the highways.

Our attorneys will certainly continue to do our part.  A large reason we created the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable is to fight for safer roads and fewer truck accidents, fatigued driving and unsafe motor carriers.

Although the new HOS 2013 rules are tougher, we believe they are still don’t go far enough.  The FMSCA states that the new rules will prevent 1,400 crashes, 560 injuries and 19 deaths a year, with an estimated $280 million in savings from fewer large truck crashes and $470 million in savings from reduced fatigue and improved truck driver health.

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About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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