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Trucking death increase may be linked to conflict with HOS rules

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of large-truck fatalities reached a 29-year high in 2017. A total of 4,761 people, including about 1,300 truckers, were killed that year. In Illinois and across the U.S., truckers have expressed their opinions as to what might be behind the increase.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has stated that many truckers feel constrained by the federal rule that requires them to take a 30-minute rest break after eight consecutive hours of driving. The break, according to them, forces truckers to speed in order to make up for lost time and also hastens the onset of fatigue during their shifts.

The chief counsel for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration believes that there is no such link between HOS rules and the increase in fatal accidents. Speeding, for example, has factored into fewer and fewer large-truck crashes over the past three years. However, the FMCSA is considering modifications to those rules; it is currently review around 5,200 comments regarding the subject.

A lack of accessible truck parking can also heighten trucker fatigue. One study shows that most crashes where the trucker was drowsy and at fault occur at least 20 miles from a rest area or truck stop. Lastly, many in the industry have complained about truckers becoming distracted by their phones or complacent through driver-assist features.

When truck driver negligence is behind a crash, victims can think about filing a claim against the trucking company. It all starts with a lawyer evaluating the case in light of the state's negligence laws. If the grounds are good, the lawyer can proceed to build up the case with investigators, medical experts and other third parties. Legal counsel can then strive for a reasonable settlement covering medical bills, vehicle repairs, income lost during the physical recovery and more.

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