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Should the FMCSA reconsider enforcing hours of service rules?

It's not often that we can say we relate to the predicaments of celebrities, mostly because their personal lives seem so far removed from our own. But when news broke in June last year of the serious truck accident involving Tracy Morgan and several other comedians, this sentiment suddenly wasn't true anymore because the crash could have easily happened anywhere, which hit close to home for many, including some of our Upper Marlboro readers.

For those who didn't hear about the crash, it happened on June 7, 2014 on the New Jersey Turnpike when a Wal-Mart semi-truck violently rear ended a limousine carrying Morgan and several other comedians. The crash seriously injured Morgan and killed fellow comedian James McNair. It was a tragedy that left more questions than answers.

At the time, some speculated that the Wal-Mart truck driver may have been fatigued at the time of the crash. For many, this possibility stressed the importance of federal hours of service rules that made rest stops mandatory for truck drivers after a certain amount of time driving. But the mandatory 36-hour reset that was supposed to go into effect on July 1, 2013 was suspended by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration nearly six months before the crash took place.

This fact has begged the question by some: would the enforcement of the rest rule have prevented the fatal crash from occurring in the first place? Some here in Maryland may argue yes, pointing out that if the driver had not been fatigued, he may have reduced his speed through the turnpike and would have reacted appropriately to traffic, thereby avoiding an accident.

Whether the FMCSA rules the same way remains to be seen. At this time though, the mandatory rest restart rule has reverted to an earlier version that may not prevent fatigued driving as well as the new rule might have.

Source: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, "Hours of Service," Accessed Sept. 2, 2015

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