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Truckers Challenge Hours-of-Service Rule

Any Chicago accident lawyer will tell you that Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has heavily regulated the hours-of-service that large commercial vehicle drivers are permitted to operate in a given week. This regulation was implemented as a necessary measure to protect truck driver health and ensure that the safety of the traveling public is not compromised by driver fatigue and subsequent fatigued-related semi truck accidents.

In order to adhere to this rule, our accident lawyers in Chicago know that truck drivers are required to records their traveling hours manually in paper logbooks. However, this ancient system of recording hours has been severely plagued by false information and manipulation at the hands of truck drivers and their trucking carriers.

In order to make the process more legitimate and free of any illegality, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration developed a new system that will be implemented in June 2012. This system would ultimately mandate stringent regulation on trucking carriers who exceed the allotted 10 percent of hours-of-service noncompliance. Additionally, trucking carriers who maintain a 40 percent higher crash rate than the general trucking population would be required to install Electronic On-Board Recorded in all commercial vehicles.

As a direct result of the impending trucker rule, CourtHouseNews.com reports that three truck drivers, as well as, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association petitioned the federal appeals court for review, asserting that the on-board monitors would prevent truck drivers from “using their own discretion to gauge driver fatigue.” As a result, the 7th Circuit Court struck down the impeding rule for failing to adequately address concerns that the on-board devices could be used to harass large commercial vehicle drivers.

As a result of the ruling, a Chicago truck accident lawyer at our firm learned that the three truck driver plaintiffs petitioned the court for compensation for attorney fees, as well as, costs under the Equal Access to Justice Act – an Act that allows successful litigants to recover fees from successful litigation against the United States in certain circumstances.

However, the 4th Circuit Court ultimately held that the truckers were not eligible for the EAJC compensation and the 8th Circuit also denied fees to the truckers. It was held that in cases where a company’s insurance policy reimbursed defense costs of its corporate officer in underlying litigation.

Despite the determined illegality of the proposed trucking rule, our Chicago accident lawyers continue to stress the importance of regularly mandating the trucking industry. Given the sheer size and weight of large commercial vehicles, drivers and their trucking carriers must adhere to federal and state laws in order to prevent the devastating injuries and fatalities that may ensue from unsafe travel.