Is the Truck Lobby Trying to Overturn California’s Meal Break Rules?


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When it comes to driving long hauls, it’s important that drivers have plenty of rest. However, trucking companies want to get their cargo to its destination as quickly as possible. This can cause truckers to work long hours without rest, which can result in serious crashes. To prevent these fatigue-related crashes, the federal government and state lawmakers mandate rest hours for truckers. Yet, lobbyists for trucking companies are still trying to maximize work hours for truckers, and now lunch breaks seem to be their next target.

How Is the Truck Lobby Affecting Safety Regulations Nationwide?

Drowsy driving contributes to around 328,000 U.S. traffic collisions each year, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Considering how little rest truck drivers get, this is especially troubling. Though hours of service rules require a 10-hour break after a maximum 11 hours of driving, truckers often don’t get enough rest. Having to eat, bathe and sleep at truck stops or hotels leaves some drivers with only four to five hours of sleep. Now, the truck lobby has sent a letter to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to reduce that rest time further.

In California, there are meal break rules that require employees who work five hours a day to get a 30-minute break. If those employees work more than 10 hours a day, they get a second 30-minute meal break. This regulation is handy for truckers in California who can get a bite to eat or bathe during these breaks and have more time to sleep during their 10-hour break. However, a letter from the American Trucking Association wants federal lawmakers to preempt California’s meal break rules.

The letter refers to these rules as disruptive and dangerous while also accusing these regulations of preempting federal law. But these mandates give truckers more time to get the rest they need to drive safely. Earlier this year, the truck lobby supported similar measures that politicians wrote into an aviation budget bill. But lawmakers cut it from the aviation bill before it advanced. This letter is the lobby’s next attempt to increase the service time truckers spend on the road.

In September, the U.S. DOT announced that federal laws do trump California’s break laws, but only for drivers hauling hazardous materials. Is this a step in the right direction? Considering the damage large trucks cause when they crash, fighting fatigued driving could help save lives. At James McKiernan Lawyers, we understand the importance of this fight. Our firm helps the victims of California 18-wheeler accidents, so we have seen the damage these crashes can cause. The broken bones, brain and spinal injuries that can result from these crashes can be life-changing. Rely on our experience and give us a call at 800-200-HURT for a free consultation. You can also fill out our online contact form.

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