Congress Set to Discuss Disputes Over Trucker Rest Breaks in 2018
Truck drivers work grueling shifts, spending long hours on the road. Safety advocates warn of the potential dangers, in which overwork, lack of sleep, and eating or drinking behind the wheel make truck accidents more likely to occur. Whereas states currently have the ability to create their own policies in this regard, as Congress returns for the 2018 season they will be discussing overruling these state laws in favor of federal regulations. For truckers, it could mean longers periods of time spent driving, which opponents claim could put them and other motorists in danger.
The Debate over Trucking Reforms
The Commercial Carriers Journal (CCJ) reports that in 2018, Congress will be looking at several reforms that are likely to have significant impacts on the trucking industry. Among the items debated include infrastructure funding packages, new driver regulations, and changes in the existing carrier rating systems. One of the most contested changes being proposed concerns the frequency of truck driver rest and break stops, and whether these are regulated on a federal level or on a state by state basis.
Proponents claim that the current system, which allows each state to set guidelines for when truckers are required to take rest breaks and stops for meals, is impractical considering the fact that most truckers drive across state lines. Federal standards would eliminate potential confusion and provide uniformity. Opponents claim those standards treat truckers unfairly, and add to the problem of distracted driving and falling asleep behind the wheel. By not providing breaks afforded other types of employees, it makes an already demanding job harder while putting drivers and motorists at risk.
Florida Regulations Concerning Truck Driver Breaks and Rest Stops
Florida takes its cue from the federal government in the amount of hours it allows truckers to drive before pulling over. Based on Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) guidelines, it limits driving time to 11 hours, with a maximum 14-hour on-duty shift. A 30-minute rest break must be taken after every eight hours on the road. Trucking companies are not obligated to pay for this or any other off duty time.
In contrast, the CCJ reports that California is one of a handful of states which treat truckers the same as any other employee. A 10-minute break is required after working four hours or more, with a 30-minute meal break required for shifts lasting five hours or longer. While safety experts cite truck accident statistics in supporting these additional break periods, critics claim that it is not so easy for truckers to pull over and stop what they are doing at these intervals. They claim it could, in fact, create additional dangers.
Contact Us Today for Help
The policies trucking companies operate under have a significant impact on driver safety. When truck accidents do occur, these companies can often be held liable for the damages you suffer. If you are injured in this type of accident, call or contact Gregg Wexler at the Wexler Law Firm, P.A. online and request a consultation with our West Palm Beach truck accident attorney.