Low visibility, poor road conditions and long hours behind the wheel can lead to a devastating crash between a semi-truck and passenger vehicles. Although professional drivers must adhere to industry regulations during their shift, unique circumstances can make following the rules dangerous.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, updated hours of service regulations went into effect in September 2020. The changes allow drivers in Georgia and across America to have more control over their long and short-haul shifts.
Key changes to the HOS rule
Although the FMCSA didn’t make many changes, the updates allow for more flexibility when managing rest and finding a safe place to pull over during bad weather. One of the most noticeable changes is that drivers can use their 30-minute break while in on-duty, not-driving status. Regulations require that truckers take it during the first eight hours of drive time instead of the first eight hours on-duty.
Another change allows the extension of the drive-time limit when dealing with congestion on the roads or poor weather conditions. Truckers can split the 10-hour required off-duty time into longer segments, which means they can take a two-hour break in the middle of a 14-hour shift instead of going off-duty.
Driver fatigue dangers
The National Safety Council reports that more than 300,000 accidents result from drowsy driving each year. More than a third of those accidents involve injuries and nearly 6,500 results in one or more fatalities. Driver fatigue can impact a person’s ability to perform tasks, including driving, safely. Maneuvering a big rig during bad weather can take a toll on drivers as it requires mental and physical exertion. Fatigue can set in long before hours of service regulations require that they take a break, affecting coordination and judgment.
Drivers may veer into oncoming traffic when they lose focus, and reaction time can increase, which may result in a deadly collision. When a crash occurs between a big rig and passenger vehicle, devastating injuries may require long-term treatment or permanent medical care.