Driver fatigue is more common than you may think. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 1 in 25 adult motorists have fallen asleep behind the wheel in the last 30 days. Driver fatigue is a common concern among truck drivers. Spending long hours behind the wheel transporting goods can lead to drowsiness behind the wheel. This can result in catastrophic truck accidents that put the truck driver’s life and other people’s lives at risk.
The lawyers at our Sugar Land, TX would like to consider hours of service regulations in place to prevent truck driver fatigue, and how violations of these laws can lead to hazardous roadways for everyone out there.
The Dangers of Truck Driver Fatigue
When truck drivers are tired, their reactions are slower, their decision-making skill are impaired, and they do not pay attention to the road. Perhaps the most notable instance of this in recent years was the large truck accident that seriously injured actor/comedian Tracy Morgan and claimed the life of his friend and fellow comedian James McNair. The driver of the large truck had allegedly not slept for 24 hours at the time of the crash.
About Hours of Service Regulations
The above dangers are why hours of service regulations are in place. Hours of service regulations help ensure that truck drivers are required to rest at certain points during their shift. They also provide set amounts of time for daily and weekly work.
Current Hours of Service Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has several regulations in place to help prevent fatigue behind the wheel for commercial truck drivers. Some of the key laws are:
- 14-Hour Driving Window - A truck driver can only operate their vehicle during a window of 14 consecutive hours.
- 11-Hour Driving Limit - During that allotted 14-hour window, a truck driver can only drive for 11 hours total. The driver must take a mandatory off-duty break of 30 minutes for every 8 hours behind the wheel.
- 60/70 Hour Limit - A truck driver may not log more than 60 on-duty hours in 7 consecutive days, or 70 on-duty hours in 8 consecutive days.
Violations of these regulations can take many forms, from misreporting hours spent on the road to avoiding mandatory breaks. Any violations of these laws must be taken seriously.
Penalties for Violating Hours of Service Regulations
Penalties for violating hours of service regulations may include fines, license suspension, and a lowering of a truck driver’s safety rating. These penalties can impact a truck driver’s current finances, and also make it more difficult for the truck driver to get more truck driving jobs.
Holding Truck Drivers and Trucking Companies Accountable
If truck drivers have violated hours of service regulations, they need to be held legally accountable for accidents that they have caused. Similarly, trucking companies that hire drivers who routinely violate these safety violations must be held accountable for their poor judgement in terms of who they employ.
If a truck driver has injured you or a loved one, we encourage you to discuss your case with our law firm. We can go over all of the details in your case and provide sound advice regarding all of your legal options. We will fight diligently for you.
Contact Our Truck Accident Lawyers
To learn more about your legal options following a serious auto collision, we encourage you to contact an experienced truck accident lawyer. The attorneys of Reed & Terry, LLP are here to help you in your time of legal need.