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Are trucker safety rules causing more truck accidents?

In July 2013, new federal trucking regulations changed the hours of service that truck drivers could legally operate. One of the more controversial regulations, described as the 34-hour restart rule, required drivers to take at least a 34-hour break before restarting their driving work week. However, is it possible that the restart rule actually led to more truck accidents rather than preventing them?

Congress suspended the restart rule at the end of last year and it requested a study on the rule's effectiveness. The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) reported its findings and analysis about the rule in April of this year. The ATRI concluded that the restart rule, along with other hours of service rules for drivers, caused an increase in truck accidents.

Although the trucking rules were designed to help prevent truck driver fatigue, thereby reducing the number of accidents, the ATRI reported that the rules caused more truckers to drive during the day instead of at nighttime. Likewise, more drivers shifted their hours of operation to weekdays instead of weekends. Thus, more truckers took to the roads at times of the week and day when many drivers in other automobiles were also on the road.

Opponents of the trucking regulations will likely cite the ATRI study results as support for rolling back restrictions on trucker's hours of operations. On the other hand, other interested parties may argue that truckers and their employers should still be closely regulated.

Regardless of what happens with the regulations, the bottom line is that truck accidents are still occurring. When an accident is the result of a driver's negligence, accident victims may be able to hold the driver, and possibly the trucking company, legally liable for damages. West Virginians who are injured in a truck accident should understand all of their legal options.

Source: Overdrive, "Study finds 2013 restart restrictions negatively impacted safety," Todd Dills, Accessed on Sept. 14, 2015

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