Federal agency considering changes to truck driver rules

The Department of Transportation is in the process of loosening the rules that restrict the number of hours truck drivers in Texas and across the country can be on the road. Interest groups and trucking companies have lobbied for more flexible regulations for a long time, and some say the move to relax regulations is evidence of the lobbyists' influence on the Trump administration. Highway safety advocate groups say the changes would weaken the regulations and lead to truckers driving longer and longer days.

Government data indicates that the number of fatal large truck accidents is already increasing. In 2017, there were 4,657 large truck crash fatalities, which represented a 10% increase over the previous year. Sixty of the truck drivers involved were said to have been fatigued or asleep at the time of the crash, although the National Transportation Safety Board said driver fatigue is likely to have been underreported.

The NTSB is on record calling driver fatigue a pervasive problem on American roadways. The Transportation Department said more than 10 years ago that 13% of truck drivers who were in injury accidents were fatigued at the time. Under existing regulations, truck drivers are limited to 11 hours of drive time in each 14-hour on-duty period. They must have 10 hours in a row off the road between on-duty windows.

Car accidents involving large trucks are often more serious than other crashes because of the size and speed of the trucks. Injured parties may be entitled to monetary awards for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses or other damages. A lawyer who is experienced with personal injury law might help injured parties by negotiating with the owner of the truck or the relevant insurance companies. An attorney might secure expert testimony, gather evidence or otherwise prepare the case for trial.

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