Hours of Service Rules Could Impact Your Truck Accident Case
Commercial truck drivers have a great responsibility to ensure they don’t endanger others on the road. One of the ways truck drivers can help keep the roads safe is to follow all Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) regulations — especially those regarding the maximum hours truck drivers are allowed to be on duty, known as hours of service (HOS) laws.
Keep reading to learn more about HOS laws and how they can help you receive compensation if you’ve been involved in a truck accident.
What Are the Hours-of-Service Regulations?
The FMCSA mandates that all commercial motor vehicle drivers limit the number of hours they are on the road. These hours of service regulations dictate that truck drivers may only drive a maximum of eleven total hours. This period does not reset until they have been off duty for 10 consecutive hours.
Other stipulations include that drivers cannot be on duty for over 14 hours (even with short rests) without 10 hours of off duty rest. Additionally, drivers must spend at least eight of these 10 hours in the sleeper berth of the truck.
Why Is It Important to Regulate Service Hours?
Truck drivers work long, tedious hours and typically rest in the sleeper berth of their truck rather than a real bed. They also commonly park their trucks at rest stops near busy highways. Their long hours and less-than-ideal sleeping conditions lead to sleep deprivation, abnormal sleep cycles, and fatigue.
The Effects of Fatigue on Truck Drivers
Without adequate sleep, truck drivers aren’t in top condition to be on the road. Drowsy driving contributes to 11% percent of all crashes in the U.S., and studies show that 30% of commercial truck drivers suffer from sleep apnea, which further aggravates the issue.
Driving while sleep-deprived can result in:
- Diminished reaction times
- Poor decision making
- Reduced ability to calculate speed or distance
- Falling asleep at the wheel
The Purpose of Service Hour Rules
Studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that truck drivers who had been driving for over eight hours were twice as likely to crash.
Restricting truck driver hours is crucial to the safety of everyone on the road, and the FMCSA limits truck driver hours as much as they can. Although the FMCSA cannot force truck drivers to sleep during the ten-hour rest, hours-of-service regulations do help.
RELATED ARTICLE: Trucking Company Coercion Frequently Leads to Driver Fatigue
How Does the FMCSA Enforce the Regulations?
Prior to 2017, the FMCSA only required truck drivers to keep written logs of their driving hours. These logs were easily falsified by dishonest drivers or those who were forced to by their employer.
Since then, the association has required all commercial trucks to carry electronic logging devices (ELDs) that automatically record truck and driver data, including hours on the road. Because the records are electronic, drivers cannot tamper with their service hours logs.
The FMCSA reports that as of May 2018, ELDs had cut back on hours-of-service violations by 50%.
What Effects Do HOS Rules Have on My Truck Accident Claim?
To build a truck wreck case, your attorney will need to prove that the truck driver or company was negligent and caused your injuries. Pulling the driving records from the truck’s electronic logging device can provide critical evidence for a truck wreck attorney’s investigation and case.
Violating HOS regulations not only shows a blatant disregard for the law but also proves truck driver negligence. In addition to holding the truck driver responsible, your attorney might be able to find evidence that the company pressured the driver into exceeding the safe working hours. In this case, you could be entitled to compensation from both the truck driver and his or her trucking company for your damages.
How Can Seattle Truck Law Help Truck Accident Victims?
At Seattle Truck Law, our attorneys will thoroughly investigate your truck wreck to determine and prove negligence. In addition to pulling the electronic logging device data and looking at hours of service, we have experience obtaining a variety of other evidence — including pulling cell phone records, credit card data, and vehicle black box reports.
Electronic Logging Devices: Improving Safety Through Technology. (2018). FMCSA – U.S. Department of Transportation. Retrieved from https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/regulations/enforcement/406471/eld-infographic-6-month-update-f2508621.pdf
Large Trucks. (2019, May). Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Retrieved from https://www.iihs.org/topics/large-trucks
Owens, J.M., Dingus, T.A., Guo, F., Fang, Y., Perez, M., McClafferty, J.& Tefft, B.C. (2018, February). Prevalence of Drowsy Driving Crashes: Estimates from a Large-Scale Naturalistic Driving Study. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Retrieved from https://aaafoundation.org/prevalence-drowsy-driving-crashes-estimates-large-scale-naturalistic-driving-study/
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.