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OOIDA seeks rule change regarding hours of service

The advocacy group for tractor-trailer owner-operators, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), has recently filed a petition with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration seeking changes to so-called 'hours of service" regulations. The FMCSA is responsible for issuing regulations on the number of hours a day a tractor-trailer driver can be on the road. These changes could affect the safety of all New York drivers.

The OOIDA claims the current regulations are convoluted and lead to fatigued driving. Drivers are provided with a 14-hour window each day to drive, and the clock begins running as soon as a person begins driving and cannot be paused. Once the 14 hours are up, the driver must wait at least 10 hours before driving again. The current regulations also require a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of the 14-hour window. The clock continues running during the break.

The petition is seeking two significant changes. First, the OOIDA has moved to eliminate the mandatory 30-minute break. Second, the organization wants drivers to be allowed to take up to a three-hour break during the 14-hour window, which would pause the clock. According to the petition, the changes would give drivers some much-needed flexibility during their day. The OOIDA believes that people will take more breaks and be less fatigued while driving if they are allowed to do so without it being counted against their workday.

Driver fatigue is especially dangerous as it relates to tractor-trailer drivers. A fatigued driver has a limited reaction time, which can lead to an increase in serious accidents. Someone who is injured by a fatigued tractor-trailer driver may have a claim for damages that include medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. An attorney with experience in personal injury law may be able to help by negotiating a settlement with the fatigued driver's employer or insurance company. In instances where a settlement is unlikely, a lawyer can advance his or her client's claim through the legal system by filing a lawsuit.

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