New laws hope to reduce truck accidents and fatalities

Washington, D.C. area roadways are filled with numerous vehicle types from passenger cars to taxi cabs and other commercial vehicles and more. Congestion in and around our nation's capital includes residents, lawmakers, tourists and more. The combination can make the possibility of a motor vehicle accident more likely than many would wish. Anything from property damage to personal injury to death is possible. The severity of accidents when involving a large semi or 18-wheeler can be extreme at times.

The U.S. Department of Transportation statistics for 2011 indicate that a total of 2,346 accidents occurred involving trucks or trailers. Of those, 804 injuries and five deaths resulted. These numbers make awareness of large truck safety an important thing for all area residents. Truckers themselves shoulder a large portion of the burden of staying safe while driving.

New regulations take effect to keep people safe

This year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted new rules that change truck driver working conditions and hours. Drivers will see a reduced number of hours that they are able to work in a given week and requirements about the duration and timing of breaks.

The goal is to reduce commercial truck accidents and improve safety for all. The changes include the following guidelines:

  • The maximum allowable number of hours that a truck driver can work in one work week is 70, down from a prior total of 82.
  • One rest period lasting a minimum of 30 minutes must be taken at least once for every eight hours of work.
  • Each work week must include a minimum of 34 hours consecutive off duty that spans two different periods from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.
  • A maximum of 11 hours per day is allowed behind the wheel per driver.
  • Each driver can work up to 14 hours maximum per day.

According to the predictions of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 560 unique personal injuries and 19 deaths will be eliminated due to the new guidelines and resulting safety improvements.

Getting help is important

If and when you or a loved one is involved in a crash involving a large truck, it is important that you seek the proper help. Certainly this may include appropriate medical treatment but it also includes legal guidance. Working with a lawyer who is experienced in personal injury and large truck accident cases can make the difference to you between receiving appropriate compensation or getting far less than you deserve for your injuries.