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September 16, 2011

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the agency that enforces compliance with trucking regulations, has proposed lowering the hours a truck driver can spend behind the wheel before taking a break in an effort to reduce trucking accidents in the U.S. The FMCSA would like to reduce driving time from 11 hours in each 14-hour shift to 10 hours. The proposed changes would also mandate that drivers take more time off from work between seven-day stretches of working and require drivers to take a one-hour break from long shifts, including time spent loading and unloading freight. The agency expects to issue a ruling on the proposed changes by October 28. Trucking companies are strongly opposed to the changes, saying that the new rules would increase their costs of doing business.

Last year, the agency took other steps to make roadways safer and reduce trucking accidents, including a rule that will go into effect in 2012 that will require long-haul truckers who routinely violate driving limits to install electronic log devices instead of the traditional paper driver’s log books. Trucking companies oppose an even stricter version of this rule that would make electronic log books mandatory in all big rigs whether a driver has a history of violating driving limits or not. The new round of safety measures is the biggest since 2004, when a major overhaul of trucking laws took place. The new laws reduced the number of fatal truck accidents, and agency officials hope the proposed changes will reduce deadly truck accidents even more.

Here in Florida, 179 people were killed in trucking accidents in 2009. Passenger vehicles weighing only a few thousand pounds are no match for a fully loaded 18-wheeler weighing up to 80,000 pounds. If a truck driver gets drowsy from spending too many hours behind the wheel without taking a break, his or her chances of causing a deadly accident go up significantly.

If you or a close family member has been injured in a trucking accident caused by a driver who fell asleep at the wheel and/or falsified a driver’s log, the driver and the trucking company may be liable for damages. If you have questions, call Orlando personal injury lawyer James O. Cunningham today at 888-425-2004 or 407-425-2000 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. Mr. Cunningham has been helping injured people since 1977 and helps each client achieve the best possible outcome for his or her case. Before you sign any documents that you do not fully understand, have your Orlando personal injury lawyer read them first!

James O. Cunningham

Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.

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