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Debate over regulations for trucking safety on the road

For many Kentucky drivers, the thought of an accident with a large tractor-trailer truck is one of the most frightening possibilities on the roadway. The mass and weight of these large trucks means that a crash involving them can be deadly or lead to severe personal injuries. As truck drivers spend lengthy shifts behind the wheel, often driving at highway speeds during late-night hours, the threat posed to highway safety due to drowsy drivers can be significant. Because of this danger, a number of ongoing debates concern the best way to regulate drivers' hours of work in order to protect people from dangerous truck crashes.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, or OOIDA, is seeking to change the rules implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA. Specifically, the FMCSA mandates a 14-hour shift each day for truck drivers, including a mandatory 30-minute rest break to take place during their first 8 hours on the job. The regulations mandate that a shift runs for 14 hours straight; they do not allow a truck driver to "stop the clock" and return to finish their shift.

However, the OOIDA is proposing an alternate framework in which drivers would not be mandated to take the 30-minute break. Instead, they could stop the clock on their 14-hour shift for a break of up to three hours. While the shift may be longer than 14 hours overall, both the existing regulations and the proposed reforms would require truckers to complete 10 hours off duty before returning to work to start a new shift.

Sleepy drivers are more apt to lose control over their vehicle, making drowsy truck drivers a real danger on the road. People who have been injured in a truck accident due to others' dangerous driving may be able to work with a personal injury lawyer to pursue compensation for pain and suffering, medical bills and other damages.

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