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As Truck Drivers Push for Relaxed Regulation, Kentucky Drivers Remain at Risk

Sleepy truck drivers cause hundreds of fatal crashes each year. Semi drivers work in an industry that rewards miles driven, not time on the clock, so many truckers push the envelope to make a living.

On December 18th, 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation implemented a controversial mandate requiring the vast majority of truck drivers to record their working hours using electronic logging devices (ELDs). ELDs are harder to manipulate than traditional handwritten paper logbooks, and thus make it more difficult for drivers to violate restrictions on their working hours without getting caught by government inspectors. Because the work-hour restrictions (known as “hours-of-service” (HOS) regulations) are designed to reduce driver fatigue, the ultimate goal of the mandate was to reduce accidents on roads and highways.

Under the existing HOS regulations, long-haul truckers are limited to 11 hours of driving time within a 14-hour on-duty window. They must have had 10 consecutive hours off duty before the on-duty clock starts anew. And a driver who is going to be driving for more than eight hours must take a 30-minute break before hitting the eight-hour mark.

Rather than tighten restrictions to make highways safer for other drivers, the Transportation Department is now moving to relax the federal regulations that require drivers to pull over once they meet the maximum allowable driving hours in their ELD: a long-sought goal of the trucking industry.

But highway safety advocates are warning the contemplated changes would dangerously weaken the regulations, resulting in truckers putting in even longer days at a time when they say driver fatigue is such a serious problem. They point to new government data that shows fatal crashes involving trucks weighing as much as 80,000 pounds have increased.

This spring, Kentucky truck drivers protested additional regulations for drivers. The fact remains, however, that motorists on Kentucky’s roadways remain at risk when sleepy and distracted truck drivers are operating in the Commonwealth.

At the Poppe Law Firm®, we represent people who are injured in car wrecks, motorcycle wrecks, or semi-truck wrecks and other roadway accidents. If you or someone you know has been injured in a traffic accident, or if someone you know lost their life in a traffic accident, please call the Poppe Law Firm® at (502) 895-3400 or fill out our online intake form.

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