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Relaxation of federal truck safety rules puts other motorists at risk

Last time, we began discussing the federal hours of service regulations, which are largely intended to address the problem of fatigued driving among commercial vehicle operators. The rules, no doubt, do help to ensure that truck drivers are adequately rested while on the roadway, but there has been a fair amount of wrangling over the rules.

The most recent change with the rules took place in 2014 when Congress passed a bill which suspended enforcement of requirements for the 34-hour restart rule. The previous rule required truckers to take their rest breaks at a certain period of two consecutive nights, but that rule was suspended at the urging of the industry so that its effectiveness could be investigated. It remains to be seen whether it will be reinstated.

The trucking industry has been successful in initiating changes not only in the hours of service rules, but also with size and weight limits and other safety standards. These changes, as has been pointed out, have not been good for the cause of highway safety.

The problem with the move toward loosening safety rules for the trucking industry, aside from the fact that it makes accidents more likely, is that it may also give accident victims less of an ability to seek compensation in court. Accident victims in any case are required to demonstrate to the court that the defendant breached some established duty and thereby caused harm to the plaintiff.

Demonstrating breach can be done in a number of ways, but one effective way to do it is to point to the violation of federal safety rules. If safety rules are relaxed, though, it could feasibly be more difficult to prove negligence. In any case, of course, it is important to work with an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure one puts together the strongest possible evidence.

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