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FMCSA upholds 30-minute break rule for truck drivers

Colorado residents may know that federal regulations strictly limit the amount of time that truck drivers can spend behind the wheel before resting. These hours of service rules are designed to reduce the number of accidents caused by fatigued truck drivers, but a nonprofit organization representing American truck and bus inspectors says that a regulation requiring drivers to take 30-minute breaks is being used by some to falsify logbooks and circumvent the rules.

The rule went into effect in July 2013, and it requires truck drivers to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of their shifts. In addition to claiming that the rule provides some drivers with an opportunity to falsify hours of service records, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance says that the regulation is difficult to enforce and provides few, if any, road safety benefits. The organization asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to rescind the rule in 2015.

The FMCSA disagreed with the arguments put forward by the CVSA, and it announced that the rule would remain in effect in a letter sent to the nonprofit on Aug. 8. The federal safety watchdog said that the rule does protect road users from drowsy truck drivers and should not be abandoned simply because it is difficult to enforce. The FMCSA also pointed out that a federal appeals court upheld the requirement for long-haul drivers in August 2013.

Accidents caused by fatigued or distracted drivers can be particularly serious when the vehicle involved is a heavy truck or bus. People in other vehicles who are in a commercial truck accident often lose their lives, and even those protected by the sophisticated safety equipment of modern automobiles may suffer debilitating injuries and be left unable to work for considerable periods. Lawsuits filed on their behalf by their attorneys may seek compensation for their lost income as well as other expenses such as the costs of their medical treatment and physical therapy.

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