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Updated rules for truck drivers may save lives

According to a report, up to 4,000 people perish every year in semi truck and bus accidents. In 13 percent of those cases, the truck accident is caused by a fatigued driver. In order to increase the safety of other drivers in Wisconsin and across the nation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has worked on a new set of provisions for truck drivers.

On July 1, several new rules regarding the rest periods and the total number of driving hours for truck drivers went into effect. For example, drivers must now take at least one half-hour break sometime during their first initial eight hours of driving. Further, a driver is also required to take a 34-hour break from driving once every week that allows them to catch up on sleep. Finally, a driver may only drive for a maximum of 70 hours per week. The new laws are predicted to save approximately 19 lives.

Many truck drivers believe that the 30-minute break is reasonable but unneeded. One truck driver argued that any driver who has been driving trucks for awhile will know when they need a break. In addition, the truck driver argued that they have no choice but to push the number of hours that they drive due to the harsh penalties of being late for a pick-up or drop-off of their cargo. However, the rules will only affect the drivers who run the long routes, or about 15 percent of drivers.

Regardless of how truck drivers feel about the new laws, motorists who are involved in accidents with trucks often face serious injuries or even death. An Wisconsin personal injury attorney may be able to help the victim of a semi truck accident obtain just compensation by proving the extent of their injuries and the extent of the negligence of the truck driver.

Source: NPR, "New Rules Put Brakes On Truck Drivers' Schedules", June 30, 2013

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