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New rules help semi drivers stay alert on the road

In an effort to reduce the number of accidents caused by fatigued commercial drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has instituted a new set of rules. While the rules are aimed to keep the roads safe for all drivers, the financial strain they may cause makes them controversial. Drivers who are paid based on their mileage and the companies they work for stand to lose money based on these new industry standards.

According to the Department of Transportation, 13 percent of all bus and large truck fatalities are the result of drivers who have not had enough sleep. A serious truck accident is more likely to occur when a driver is on the road for more than 36 hours at a time. These new rules put restrictions on the number of hours a driver can work in a week and require rest breaks to help drivers stay alert while they are on the road.

There are three parts to the new provisions. Each driver must have a 34-hour off period every week. The block of time off must include two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods. The maximum number of work hours per week has been reduced to 70 hours. Finally, drivers must take a half-hour break during their first eight-hours on the road.

With mandatory rest periods, semi-truck drivers should be more alert and less likely to be involved in preventable accidents. Those who are involved in accidents that involve commercial trucks are often seriously injured. In many of these cases, they injured person or their family members file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver or the trucking company. The assistance of an attorney who is experienced in settling accident claims can often result in a faster settlement.

Source: NPR, "New Rules Put Brakes On Truck Drivers' Schedules", June 30, 2013

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