Truck Accidents and Hours of Service Violations
Crashes involving tractor-trailers can lead to severe injuries and even death. One of the most high-profile cases of driver fatigue in recent years was the crash that seriously injured actor Tracy Morgan and took the life of his friend and fellow comedian James McNair. Early on during the accident investigation, it was claimed that the driver of the Walmart truck was awake for more than 24 hours leading up to the collision.
It’s reasons like this that our Arlington, TX injury lawyers take catastrophic truck accidents and commercial vehicle collisions so seriously. We at the Law Firm of Roger “Rocky” Walton, P.C. would like to consider regulations in place to prevent driver fatigue and what legal options are available when drivers violate these hours of service rules.
Driver Fatigue in the Trucking Industry
Commercial truck drivers spend long hours on the road and behind the wheel. If a driver pushes themselves too hard, they could wind up operating their vehicle in a state of exhaustion. This impairs decision-making skills, dulls reflexes, and increases the risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. According to accident statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), up to 13 percent of commercial truck drivers were fatigued at the time of their crash.
Why Hours of Service Regulations Are in Place
The FMCSA developed hours of service regulations in order to prevent pervasive driver fatigue in the trucking industry. These regulations include mandatory breaks as well as caps on driving activity per day and per week.
Current Hours of Service Rules
Current hours of service regulations for commercial truck drivers are as follows:
- 11-Hour Driving Limit - Drivers can operate their vehicle for a maximum of 11 hours after spending 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- 14-Hour Driving Window - Drivers can only operate their vehicle for 11 hours during a window of 14 consecutive hours.
- Rest Breaks - A mandatory break of 30 minutes is required after driving for eight consecutive hours.
- 60/70-Hour Limit - Drivers may not operate their vehicle after logging 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight consecutive days. The driver must log 34 hours of consecutive off-duty time before returning behind the wheel.
How Drivers May Violate HOS
Truck drivers may improperly log hours behind the wheel. This means working beyond the designated 14-hour window, and exceeding hours works per day. Similarly, breaks may be skipped, and drivers may return to duty even though they have not spent enough time resting.
In all of these cases, violations of the hours of service regulations put countless people at risk, from the truck driver to other motorists sharing the road.
Are Trucking Companies Liable for Violations?
In some cases, the trucking company may be liable for hours of service issues. If drivers have a history of incorrectly logging their hours but are not reprimanded for it, the trucking company may be responsible for an accident occurring. Similarly, a trucking company may have unrealistic demands for one of its drivers. The distance of a job combined with the tight timeframes for the task to be completed could result in hours of service regulations being violated.
A truck accident attorney at our firm can assess the situation, go over all available evidence, and hold any and all liable parties accountable for the collision they caused.
Learn More About Truck Accident Lawsuits
If you would like to learn more about your legal rights and options following an accident with a large truck, be sure to contact an experienced injury accident lawyer. We at the Law Firm of Roger 'Rocky' Walton, P.C. are here to help. You can reach our law office by phone at (817) 533-4120.