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Truck Accidents and Hours of Service Violations

By Kelly Chanfrau, Esq. on May 28, 2018

A large truck on the highwayDriver fatigue refers to drivers being sleepy and excessively tired while they are behind the wheel. Driving while drowsy can lead to slower reaction times, impaired reflexes, and poor decision making. These are all a recipe for catastrophic accidents, and some have suggested that driver fatigue can be as deadly as drunk driving.

Given the long hours spent on the road by commercial truck drivers, the government has regulations in place regarding how long these drivers can work. These are known as hours of service, and they have been saved countless lives from harm in truck accidents. The auto collision lawyers at our Palm Coast, FL law firm would like to consider the dangers of hours of service violations and their link to driver fatigue.

Current Hours of Service Laws for Truck Drivers

As laid out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), some of the current hours of service laws for truck drivers are as follows:

  • 14-Hour Driving Window - A truck driver can only drive during a window of 14 consecutive hours.
  • 11-Hour Driving Limit - During that 14-hour window, a truck driver may only drive for 11 hours, with a mandatory off-duty break of 30 minutes for every 8 hours of work.
  • 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.

While there are other regulations to observe, this broad overview should give some indication of the restrictions in place and how they can prompt truck drivers to operate with greater safety.

What Is an Hours of Service Violation?

An hours of service violation occurs when a commercial driver violates the rules noted above. When a truck driver overworks themselves, the risk of fatigue is much higher, and so is the danger to other motorists.

Penalties for Hours of Service Violations

Truck drivers log their hours so they can be noted in case of collision. If there is evidence of an hours of service violation, the truck driver can be fined, suspended, have their safety rating lowered, and have their commercial license revoked. The nature of the violation will determine the punishment.

Responsibility of Drivers and Trucking Companies

Given the risk of injury to other motorists, it’s imperative that truck drivers and trucking companies observe the hours of service regulations in place. When hiring drivers, companies must note if the new driver has a record of violating hours of service laws and other safety regulations. This driver may be a risk to others, and companies may be liable for injuries and accidents if they knowing hired someone who has a record of unsafe driving.

How Our Lawyers Can Help

Following a collision with a fatigued truck driver, our lawyers will note all of the evidence available. We will build a strong case on your behalf, noting the difficulties and losses you have faced. As you recover from injuries or mourn the loss of a loved one, we will diligently pursue justice. This peace of mind can be invaluable to you after a major collision.

Contact the Lawyers of Chanfrau & Chanfrau

For more information about your legal rights and options when it comes to accidents with large truck, be sure to contact our team of auto accident attorneys. The lawyers of Chanfrau & Chanfrau are here to answer your questions and address your concerns about these sorts of cases.

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