Required rest breaks for truckers creating new unsafe situation

by Andrew Bainbridge | Feb 04, 2015 | Workers' Compensation

The death of Mike Boeglin was a tragedy that not only affected his widow and unborn child, it was a catastrophe that has resonated with the entire nation. That’s because his death, according to his widow, could have been prevented had there been a safer place available for him to park his commercial vehicle while he took the rest break federal law requires. In response to this tragedy, many within the trucking industry are now asking policy makers to reconsider rest rules that promise to reduce the likelihood of a fatigued driving crash but are actually creating another unsafe working condition entirely.

For those who are unfamiliar with Boeglin’s case, the truck driver died when suspected robbers set fire to his truck. Reports indicate that the plant he was making a delivery to did not allow overnight parking on their property, which would have been far safer to park at than the street where he died. His death, explains a January 20th Wall Street Journal article, “has cast a harsh glare on the severe shortage of accessible parking for truck drivers [nationwide].”

In many states across the nation, including here in Ohio, truckers are running into a unique problem that does not necessarily have an easy answer. After reaching the maximum service hours, commercial truck drivers are required to take a rest break. But in many cases, truck drivers are unable to find a “legal, safe and well-lit parking [place],” meaning they have one of two choices: keep driving and potentially violate current rest rules or find a parking spot in a potentially unsafe location.

Some may argue that the lack of safe rest areas creates hazardous working conditions for truck drivers who run the risk of parking in an area where they may be injured or even killed. As you can imagine, this might create potential problems when filing for workers’ compensation benefits because the situation raises questions about whether the driver is considered on the clock or not when taking these rest breaks. The distinction may not be clear for some and could even vary across the industry, leaving many questioning whether or not their claim will be approved in the end.

Tags: Workers' Compensation