Commercial truck drivers traveling the roads of North Carolina must comply with many federal safety regulations. Some trucking industry groups, like the American Trucking Association, support changes to existing rules, but they continue to face opposition. Bills circulating currently in the U.S. House and Senate could lower allowable ages for employment as long-haul truckers. In 2018, the Drive Safe Act failed to win congressional approval after the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association expressed concerns about inexperienced younger drivers.
Although age restrictions continue to be debated, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has gone forward with a proposal for new hours of service rules. The agency continues to collect comments from the public regarding redefining a short-haul exemption to 150 air miles from 100 and allowing truckers to drive for 14 hours instead of 12.
Additional changes include allowing for more flexibility around 30-minute breaks and letting drivers divide mandatory 10-hour off duty breaks into two breaks of seven hours and three hours. Another change would also let a driver work behind the wheel for up to 17 hours if the person takes a three-hour break. An FMCSA administrator admitted that some of the regulatory alterations could trigger legal changes from safety advocates.
The federal government regulates truck driver work hours because of the risks created by fatigued drivers. Commercial truck accidents are a source of serious injuries for victims when truck drivers make mistakes or commercial vehicles malfunction due to poor maintenance. An attorney might look for evidence of regulatory violations to support an accident victim’s personal injury claim for medical bills. A legal representative may handle insurance paperwork and any court filings that become necessary to pursue a settlement.