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DOT seeks to ease trucker hours-of-operation rules

Although most Illinois motorists do not spend much time worrying about it, safety on the roadways is always an ongoing concern. The average driver is likely to have several accidents during his or her driving years, hopefully with no physical injuries and little property damage. However, if one of those accidents is with a large tractor-trailer, the odds of serious injury or death dramatically increase. Consequentially, it raises concern for many when the Department of Transportation is attempting to change a regulation that may make truck accidents more likely to happen.

Current regulations under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a DOT agency, limit how many hours a truck driver can work within a specific time frame. The regulations also address minimum rest requirements and the necessity to log the data in a digital format as opposed to the old handwritten manual logs of the past. Noncompliance can result in time out of service. These measures were taken and enforcement has been ramped up because of the very real danger that truck driver fatigue is a major cause in truck accidents.

Although no specifics are currently available, DOT has indicated a movement to aligning with what trucking industry lobbyists have for years been pushing for: a relaxation of the rules mandating rest periods for drivers. This is despite the increase in fatal truck accidents in the last two years. Further increasing concerns over the proposed relaxation of these rules is the claim by the National Transportation Safety Board that driver fatigue as the cause of accidents goes underreported.

Truck accidents can be more complicated than crashes between two passenger cars. An experienced personal injury lawyer may explain that not only are damages likely to be greater, but there may be multiple entities involved, such as the driver and their employer.

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