Increase in Truck Accident Fatalities: Need for Reduced Work Hours

There may be an urgent need for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to reduce the maximum work hours for truck drivers. According to preliminary statistics, the number of people killed in truck accidents in the year 2011 is likely to be higher than the number in 2010.

The trucking industry has been strongly opposed to any reduction in the work hours for truck drivers, from the current 11 hours to 10 hours in a 14-hour window. According to the industry, there is no need for any modification of the current work hour rules, because they seem to be working perfectly well, and have actually contributed to a decline in trucking accidents and deaths.

However, according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration chief Anne Ferro, preliminary data indicates that there has actually been an increase in truck accident fatalities this year. The number this year is likely to touch 4,000, compared to just over 3, 300 fatalities in truck accidents last year. Obviously, the trucking industry’s argument that the 11-hour rule actually increases trucking safety, don’t hold water.

Anne Ferro’s observation came during a congressional hearing into a final federal decision on the Hours of Service rule for truck drivers. While Los Angeles trucking accident lawyersstrongly support a reduction in the maximum hours that a truck driver can drive consecutively, the trucking industry has resisted these proposals. The industry has been supported by several lawmakers too. Even if the number of truck accident fatalities in 2011 is higher than in 2010, this fact may have a limited influence on the final rule. That’s because the number of truck accidents actually declined this year. The trucking industry is likely to take the ‘increased trucking safety’ argument, and run with it as it has been doing all along.