Accidents involving large commercial vehicles, such as semi-trucks, buses or other types, can happen on Wisconsin roads at any time of the day or night. The serious nature of these accidents that feature heavy and large vehicles can all too easily leave victims with permanent disabilities, traumatic brain injuries and more.

Driver distraction and fatigue are two of the top causes of many such crashes. To that end, the federal government last year took action to reduce the instances of truck driver fatigue.

The FMCSA Steps In

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration created new laws that change the working hours that drivers are allowed to log, including the nature of their break time. The purpose of this action is clear and direct — to reduce the number of truck accidents and related injuries and deaths on our nation’s roads and highways.

The changes went into effect in July 2013, making 2014 the first full calendar year that will have statistics to reflect the impact of the new laws. The FMCSA has reported an anticipated drop in the number of accidents annually by 1,400. The organization also expects to prevent 560 truck-accident related injuries and 19 fatalities.

Truckers nationwide are to follow these parameters for working hours:

  • A break period of 34 hours or more that incorporates a span of time from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. over two different days must be taken each working week.
  • A break period of 30 minutes or more must be taken every time eight hours of work that are logged.
  • A trucker can drive up to 11 hours in each day.
  • A trucker can work up to 14 hours in each day.
  • The most number of hours that a truck driver can work in a standard workweek is 70, down from the prior maximum of 82.

If the new laws are found to be violated, citations and fines could be levied on individual drivers, truck owners, trucking companies or some combination thereof.

The Need For Help

Statistics from the NHTSA show that 582 people lost their lives on Wisconsin roads in 2011, with more than 12 percent of those deaths resulting from large truck accidents. The goal of saving lives is always important, and the FMCSA is clearly focused on that with these new laws.

Anyone involved in a collision with a large truck or other commercial vehicle should always talk to an attorney for help. Professional assistance when working with transportation agencies and companies can be the best way to obtain the protection that is needed.