Will a New Federal Law Increase the Number of Truck Accidents in California?

A new law that’s currently in front of the U.S. House of Representatives has the potential to decrease the breaks truck drivers take. Experts note that distracted driving is a major cause of both car and truck accidents and driving while drowsy is an even bigger issue. This bill would affect truck drivers who are from other states and travel into our state. In essence, those drivers would be exempt from California’s laws about mandatory breaks for truck drivers.

At Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas, we’re proud of our state for passing laws to protect both drivers of truck and others on the road. This new law could have a serious impact on truck drivers who come into our state. Let’s take a closer look about what it says. If you’ve been injured in a truck or car accident, reach out to us at 909-982-0707 for your free legal consultation.

A closer look at what the law says

It isn’t a law in and of itself, instead it’s a provision that’s been added to an appropriations bill. It would make interstate truck drivers exempt from California laws if they drive into the state. In California, every employee – including truck drivers – must have a half hour meal break every five hours. They must also have at least one ten-minute break every four hours. Other states have similar laws but federal law only requires that drivers have a half an hour break during the first eight hours they’re driving.

The reason for concerns about this law

Officials worry that lowering the amount of time a truck driver must rest could increase accidents which would increase both injuries and deaths. The Truck Safety Coalition says that the House of Representatives is trying to allow drivers and their employers to get around state labor laws. Some are also concerned that people who work within California but work for companies that aren’t in the state would also be subject to skipping California’s laws.

The truth about drowsy driving

Before you decide where you stand on this issue, consider that there were about 15,000 truck accidents in California in 2016. According to the California Highway Patrol, nearly 9,000 of those accidents happened in L.A. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were 87,000 injuries in 2015 and more than 4,300 trucks and buses had a fatal accident. 55 of those fatal accidents were the direct result of truck drivers who were tired and 71 of them were caused by the driver being distracted.

How many deaths are acceptable? It seems that the laws here have helped to keep our drivers more alert on the road, yet their employers don’t want them to take a half hour break. If it could mean saving the lives of 55 people, it seems that it would be worth it. If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in an accident involving a commercial truck, please reach out to Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas at 909-982-0707 for a free legal consultation.