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Trucking deaths go up, some blame HOS rules

The current hours-of-service rules that commercial truckers in California and across the U.S. follow have been met with some criticism. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is currently reviewing about 5,200 comments on these rules, and most are concerned with the mandate that truckers take a 30-minute rest break after eight consecutive work hours.

Many truckers say that they choose to speed because of what they see as a lack of flexibility in HOS rules. The rest break, some argue, creates delays and brings on fatigue and sleepiness sooner in a trucker's shift. In turn, these issues may be to blame for the 9 percent increase in deadly large-truck crashes in 2017.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reported that 4,761 people (including about 1,300 truckers) were killed that year, which was the highest number in 29 years. Speeding, however, has been responsible for fewer and fewer large-truck crashes over the last three years, according to the FMCSA.

Fatigue remains a concern, especially with the perceived lack of accessible parking for trucks. One study revealed that most crashes where a trucker is judged to be drowsy and at fault occur at least 20 miles from a rest area or truck stop. Truckers have also complained that distracted driving, such as texting and driving, is becoming more commonplace among workers in their industry.

There are many ways in which truckers themselves can cause truck accidents. Occupants of passenger vehicles who are injured by truckers may want to seek out legal representation. A lawyer could assist in filing a claim by hiring investigators, negotiating for a settlement and litigating if necessary. If successful, victims can be covered for medical bills, lost wages and more.

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