California state law currently recognizes the risk of having a fatigued driver in a large commercial truck by requiring more rest periods for drivers than under federal law. However, two of California's representatives to the U.S. House are looking to overturn any state's ability to enhance roadway safety with more breaks than are federally mandated.
The federal law on trucker rest stops only forces drivers to stop once during their first eight hours for 30 minutes. California labor law preempts the federal requirement by forcing commercial drivers to take a 10-minute break every four hours and another 30-minute break for eating every five hours. The bill in Congress would allow interstate drivers to ignore California labor law, which some worry will increase the risk of truck accidents caused by fatigue. Kentucky and Colorado state labor laws would face a similar fate.
The personal injury risks could get even worse, according to some legal experts. In-state drivers who are working for interstate trucking corporations may also receive a free pass to ignore California law. If the law passes, those companies are likely to immediately press in-state workers into following the federal standards.
Although some interest groups are pushing for longer hours and less rest for commercial drivers, the potential cost of increased injuries and fatalities are far beyond any economic gain. Truck accidents caused by driver fatigue, manufacturer negligence or trucking company recklessness may all offer multiple sources of compensation for victims and their families. This is important due to the catastrophic losses victims may face. An attorney experienced in handling personal injury claims may be able to identify all sources of compensation in a case and ensure victims have the best chance at a full financial recovery.