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Study of restart rule: why should we care?

We began speaking last time about a Congressionally-led study of a currently suspended hours of service rule, and the Department of Transportation’s ongoing review of the study.

As we noted last time, the suspension of the restart rule was heavily advocated by the trucking industry, which has raised concerns about the rule’s effectiveness. Specifically, the industry claimed that requiring truckers to take two separate rest periods in the early morning hours before restarting their work week did little to nothing to improve highway safety. 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which implemented the rule, responded to that criticism with a study that, it was said, confirmed the rule’s effectiveness by showing a significant decrease in occurrences of unsafe driving among drivers who followed the rule. That study, however, was heavily criticized by lawmakers and industry representatives as inaccurate, which is what led to the Congressionally-led study of the rule.

All of this matters not only because of the impact of the restart rule on trucking accidents, but because having a rule in place to govern when truckers take their break time can serve as a basis for evidence of negligence in personal injury litigation when there is a violation of the rule. Establishing negligence in truck accident cases can be done in a number of ways depending on the circumstances of the case. In addition to ordinary traffic violations, evidence of the violation of federal rules can help bolster a negligence case when it is available.

Making a strong case for negligence is dependent on obtaining evidence of negligence and making a strong argument based on that evidence, and working with an experienced attorney is important in order to ensure one builds the strongest possible case.

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