In major trucking news, a group of independent truck drivers shut down a major terminal at the Port of Oakland, and blocked access to several more this week in protest of notorious congestion and other issues, which have left drivers essentially trapped in their big rigs for up to six hours, reportedly unable to even go to the bathroom, while waiting to pick up their next load. Drivers caught outside their vehicles face fines, and are not reimbursed for potentially unreasonable wait times.
Drivers at the port are forbidden from leaving their rigs once they are in line at the terminals, reportedly due to safety concerns. The group of more than 100 truckers shut down five areas, which have suffered some of the longest wait times since they were recently consolidated into a single terminal operated by industry giant SSA Marine.
The issue of long wait times is reportedly a recurring issue at this port, which led to drivers blocking the terminals for the same reasons back in 2004. The long waits at the SSA terminal are reportedly due to a change in the numbering system, which began in July, making it harder for the longshoremen to locate containers. One customer of the relevant terminal reported that he no longer used the port due to the long wait times. In one case, a shipment took almost a month to make it from the port to his San Francisco warehouse. (San Francisco is located just across the Bay Bridge from Oakland.)
The issue for truckers, many of whom are independent contractors, is that they are paid by the load, thus the wait time for collecting the load affects their ability to deliver within a certain period of time, creating unsafe incentives in order to make up for lost time.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, commercial drivers of trucks carrying property may only drive for a period of 11 hours during a 14 hour consecutive period, and are then required to take a minimum 10 hour rest break. In this situation, once the driver gets into their vehicle and drives to the port, the 14 hour period begins. Therefore, assuming a six hour wait period, with a mandatory minimum three hours worth of rest, a driver is left with only 5 hours to actually drive towards their destination. According to at least one source, the industry wide standard for wait times at ports is around one hour, which taking breaks into account, would mean a typical driver has some 10 hours left to drive–nearly double what is potentially occurring here.
Driver fatigue is one of the main causes in many trucking accidents. As professionals, truck drivers are required to adhere to specific federal and state safety regulations, which include the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. When truck drivers face time setbacks, such as in this case, there is undoubtedly an incentive to ignore the relevant federal and state regulations regarding rest periods and maximum drive times. However, when these failures result in the injury or death of other individuals, the driver and his or her company should be held accountable for the damages caused.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident that occurred in the Maryland or Washington D.C. area, contact the experienced trucking accident attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC today. Our Maryland trucking accident attorneys are dedicated to representing victims of trucking accidents, and we will fight to recover the damages you deserve. Contact us today in order to schedule your free initial consultation. You can reach us through our website, or by calling 1-800-654-1949.
More Blog Posts:
Truck en route to Marlyland Farm involved in Bridge Collision, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published October 8, 2013
Fiery Tractor Trailer Collision in College Park, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published October 1, 2013