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Trucking deaths go up, some place blame on inflexible HOS rules

Large-truck crash fatalities have reached their highest number in 29 years with 4,761 people (including about 1,300 truckers) killed in 2017. Many truckers and truck fleet owners in New Jersey and across the U.S. have formed their ideas about what has caused the rise, and these are summarized below.

A top concern among truckers is the perceived inflexibility of a federal guideline that requires them to take a 30-minute break after driving for eight consecutive hours. Because the break can cause delays, many truckers speed, endangering themselves and others in order to make up for lost time. The break can also accelerate the onset of fatigue during one's shift.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is currently reviewing around 5,200 comments on its hours-of-service rules, and the rest break rule has received the most attention. The organization may modify this and other rules in the future. However, the chief counsel for the FMCSA does not believe that the rise in deaths is linked to HOS rules.

Truckers have also expressed concern over a lack of rest areas and truck stops and its link to drowsy driving. Another widespread issue that may have contributed to the increase in deaths is distracted driving; truckers are as likely as anyone to text and drive or to become inattentive when driver-assist features are turned on.

When a negligent trucker causes an accident, the victim might opt to consult with a lawyer who works in personal injury law and determine if there are reasonable grounds for a claim. The lawyer may have investigators obtain the police report as well as any other evidence, such as phone records or work logs. Medical experts could show that the victim's reported injuries are linked to the accident. The victim might then ask the lawyer negotiate for a settlement or litigate as a last resort.

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