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Truck Accidents and Hours of Service Violations

By Saunders Law Group on August 11, 2018

Truck drivers on the highwayCollisions with large trucks can be devastating, resulting in catastrophic injuries. When these kinds of collisions are caused by negligent truck drivers, it’s important to turn to our Bartow, FL law firm for assistance. We have helped numerous clients with legal actions involving truck accidents, and have the expertise to guide you through the litigation process.

Driver fatigue in the commercial trucking industry needs to be taken seriously. Preventing drowsy driving can save lives, which is why hours of service laws are in place. Let’s consider these regulations and why violations of these regulations are so deadly.

Driver Fatigue in the Trucking Industry

Driver fatigue is a major issue that must be considered in the commercial trucking industry. According to numbers compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) drowsy driving caused or contributed to 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013. There is some suggestion that these numbers may be underestimated, however. Some data suggests that up to 6,000 fatal crashes annually could be the result of drowsy drivers.

Given the long hours spent behind the wheel, fatigue is a real issues about commercial motorists. That is why hours of service regulations are in place.

Trucking Hours of Service Regulations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has several laws in place to help prevent drowsiness behind the wheel for commercial truck drivers. Some of the key laws are as follows:

  • 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.

Examples of an Hours of Service Violation

While the above laws are meant to be followed, there are numerous ways that drivers can violate these regulations. Some examples of hours of service violations include:

  • Direct violations of the 14-hour window
  • Not taking mandatory breaks
  • Misreporting time to violate hours of service
  • Trucking companies encouraging employees to violate regulations

Penalties for Hours of Service Violations

Truck drivers who violate hours of service regulations may be subject to fines, license suspension, and a lowering of their safety rating. These penalties can negatively impact the truck driver’s current financial situation as well as the driver’s future employment in the trucking industry.

Who Is Liable for an Hours of Service Violation Accident?

Determining liability in an accident caused by truck driver fatigue may be more complicated than you think. Perhaps the driver is at fault for the incident taking place because of failing to take a break; or maybe the trucking company is partially liable as well because they forced one of their drivers to be on the road and behind the wheel longer than is safe.

By working with one of our lawyers, we can assess the evidence in your case and help you hold negligent parties accountable for your injuries. Our diligence means a strong legal case and invaluable peace of mind.

Contact Saunders Law Group

To learn more about your legal options after a major truck accident, we encourage you to contact the attorneys of Saunders Law Group. Our team of lawyers is here to answers all of your questions and address your concerns.

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