Hours of Service Violations and Truck Accidents
Big rig drivers face many regulations when it comes to operating their vehicles. Of course, the government’s goal focuses on safety issues. In some cases, hours of service violations directly correlate to truck accidents.
Not everyone knows that federal law requires truckers to follow the rules regarding their hours of service, also referred to as HOS regulations. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration “FMCSA,” the regs apply to particular types of commercial motor vehicles.
The federal rules come into effect for commercial vehicles used for business and involved in interstate commerce. More specifically, they apply to those that fall into any of these classifications:
• Weigh 10,001 pounds or more
• Have a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
• Are designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
• Are designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
• Are transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards
As you can see, the emphasis appears to be not only on the size of the vehicle. Whether it comes to transporting people or hazardous materials, it stands to reason. No one wants to run the risk of a truck accident with a tired driver.
What Hours of Service Means in the Trucking World
The FMCSA publishes an extensive guide to keep interstate truckers aware of limitations regarding HOS regulations. Fatigued driving represents a reality in the transportation business. As truckers work hard to move materials from place to place, they face deadlines.
In the meantime, the hours of service rules differ between property-carrying drivers and passenger-carrying drivers. According to a quick summary of the regulations, drivers carrying property are limited to a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. The maximum changes to 10 hours after 8 consecutive hours off duty for those carrying passengers.
The rules are actually more extensive and make allowances for rest breaks and weekly limitations. And, companies require drivers to log in their times. Failure to maintain a trucking log represents a violation all on its own.
Driver Fatigue and Truck Accidents
Regulations mean little unless they are followed. More than likely, most remember the horrific accident involving Tracy Morgan, a comedian. He suffered severe injuries when a Walmart truck hit his limousine. Authorities claimed that the truck operator had not slept more than 24 hours before the collision.
Meanwhile, that’s just one example of where sleep deprivation raises concerns. Driver fatigue continues as a number one factor in many truck crashes. At times, alcohol use or substance abuse contributes to the dangers of drowsy driving.
Injured in a Truck Accident?
A motor vehicle accident of any kind often results in serious injuries. However, the mere size of a big rig or semi often makes for a more critical problem. Unfortunately, truck driver fatigue also claims lives. If you or a loved one suffers harm as a result of a truck accident, we can help. Contact the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafajlo to set up a meeting. There is no cost to meet with us and only receive attorney’s fees based on a successful recovery on your behalf.