Semi-Truck Drivers and Hours of Service Regulations
Truck driving is an occupation that takes an immense toll on a driver’s endurance. Semi-truck drivers will typically spend hours upon hours behind the wheel in order to make deliveries across the country. Hours of monotony concentrating on keeping a semi-truck safely on the road can eventually cause a number of impairments as a driver gets fatigued. This is why semi-truck drivers are required to limit their hours. This allotted amount of time to semi-truck drivers before they must take mandatory breaks is known as hours of service.
Semi-Truck Driver Fatigue Causes Accidents
Spending long periods of time sitting down may not sound exhausting but doing so while concentrating on driving a semi-truck can cause severe strain on the mind and body. Truck drivers that don’t take regular breaks and drive over their limit end up driving drowsy which is a surprisingly common cause of semi-truck accidents.
Drowsy driving or fatigued driving causes a number of impairments that can affect your driving abilities. In many cases, driving while drowsy is comparable to driving under the influence of alcohol. Some examples of drowsy driving impairment include:
- Reduced perception
- Slowed reflexes
- Poor judgment
- Worse motor skills
In addition to all of this impairment that can come from driving fatigued is the danger of falling asleep at the wheel. When a truck driver falls asleep at the wheel a severe accident is assured involving either the truck driver alone crashing into a status object like a railing, tree, building, etc., or other drivers caught in a collision with the semi-truck bulk.
Warning Signs of Drowsy Driving
Drowsy driving can be extremely dangerous since it comes on gradually. The effects of drowsy driving will not start to impair a driver right away like how driving after a few drinks will cause fast-acting side effects. Instead, truck drivers can feel good about their state while driving after they have driven past their hours of service. This false sense of confidence often proves to be many driver’s undoing since before they know it a yawn or two starts turning into nodding off behind the wheel surprisingly quickly.
This is why hours of service were implemented. By putting strict limits on the number of hours a truck driver can drive straight, avoiding this scenario where drivers overestimate their ability to stay awake and alert is avoided much more effectively. Some of the early signs that someone is starting to reach their limit and are driving drowsy include:
- Yawning or blinking frequently
- Difficulty remembering the past few miles driven
- Missing your exit
- Drifting from your lane
- Hitting a rumble strip
What Are the Truck Driver Hours of Service?
No matter which states a truck driver is in they are required to observe the hours of service since they are a federal regulation imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). They pertain to both a truck driver’s length of time driving per single shift as well as the amount of time total they are allowed to work in a span of time.
- Truck drivers are only allowed to work 60 hours in a seven-day period or 70 hours in an eight-day period.
- Truck drivers that are transporting property can only drive 11 hours after having 10 consecutive hours off duty. Drivers who are transporting passengers are limited to drive 10 hours after having eight consecutive hours off duty.
- Commercial truck drivers are required to take a break for at least 30 minutes after driving for eight consecutive hours.
Why Do Truck Drivers Violate Hours of Service?
Truck drivers are under an immense amount of pressure to complete their deliveries on time and this stress can lead to them taking risks like driving past their limit. Drivers will often believe that it is better to drive dangerous and shave some time off of their route rather than take a small thirty-minute break to collect themselves.
In other cases, it may not always be the driver alone that neglects to obey the hours of service regulations put in place to keep drivers safe. Trucking companies will sometimes pressure their drivers to drive longer than they should in the interest of making deliveries faster and getting higher profits.
Hours of Service Violation Liability
Enforcement of hours of service among truckers is done via a trucking log that they are required to make entries in. The trucking log records the amount of time that they have been on the road, the distance they have traveled, origin and destination, and a host of other useful bits of information that can be beneficial in a truck accident claim.
In many cases, semi-truck drivers that violate the hours of service will manipulate their logs in order to try and get away with their infraction. Upon close investigation, falsified trucker logs will usually be revealed to be fraudulent. What will often happen is that semi-truck drivers will be found liable because of their negligent violations of hours of service via their falsified logs. Many other truck accident cases will also involve the trucking company that employed the driver because they either coerced or aided a semi-truck driver in falsifying their logs which can make them liable as well.
Contact a Clearwater Truck Accident Lawyer for a Free Consultation
Truck accidents can cause devastating injuries that are often much more severe than the injuries caused by passenger vehicles. Victims are left with large medical bills and frequently cannot return to their jobs. As a result, victims and their families live under constant stress, which reduces their quality of life and can sometimes tear families apart.
Fortunately, help is available. If the truck driver was responsible for the collision, then you can hold him and his employer legally accountable for your injuries by filing a truck accident injury claim or lawsuit. By bringing a lawsuit for negligence, you can receive financial compensation for your economic and non-economic losses, which will take a huge load off of your shoulders.
At Dolman Law Group, our lawyers have handled dozens of truck accidents and understand how to construct a case from the ground up. We are ready to fight to obtain full compensation for your injuries, and all you need to do is reach out. Our firm offers a free consultation and case evaluation to potential clients. Call 727-451-6900 or fill out our contact form online.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765