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Luke Dow Law Firm

Truck Accidents and Hours of Service Violations

By Luke Dow on June 26, 2018

Large commercial trucks on the highwayCollisions involving tractor-trailers can lead to catastrophic injuries and fatalities. When these kinds of crashes occur, the people of Austin, TX can rely on your law firm for assistance. We will fight for you and hold truck drivers and trucking companies responsible.

Many truck accidents are the result of driver fatigue. This includes the tragic Walmart truck accident that injured actor Tracy Morgan and claimed the life of friend and fellow comedian James McNair. Let’s consider the dangers of driver fatigue and hour hours of service regulations help protect drivers on the road.

Driver Fatigue Is Deadly

According to numbers compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), driver fatigue accounted for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013. However, it is assumed that these numbers are underestimated. Some figures estimate that driver fatigue accounts for up to 6,000 auto accident fatalities every year.

The reason these numbers are so high is that driver fatigue can be just as bad as drunk driving. Poor decision-making skills, delayed reaction times, and lack of attention on the road means crashes are far more likely. Many people drive while they are sleepy or tired as well. In the trucking industry, it’s no surprise that laws are in place to help prevent drivers from being drowsy or exhausted behind the wheel.

How Hours of Service Regulations Help

Hours of service (HOS) regulations are in place to ensure that truck drivers have some rest time and breaks amid their long shifts on the road. They were established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) as a common sense road safety measure.

Some of the current hours of service regulations in place are as follows:

  • 14-Hour Driving Window - A truck driver may only drive their vehicle during a window of 14 consecutive hours.
  • 11-Hour Driving Limit - During the 14-hour driving window, a truck driver can only drive for 11 hours total, with a mandatory off-duty break of 30 minutes for every 8 hours spent 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 Hours of Service Violations

While many truck drivers observe the above hours of service regulations, there are plenty of instances in which they disregard the regulations in place.

  • A truck driver may improperly log their hours
  • A truck driver may change their hours to get around regulations
  • Trucking companies may disregard the regulations in place

Other kinds of violations may occur, but the above covers a wide range of behaviors that should never be tolerated.

Penalties for Hours of Service Violations

If a truck driver violates any HOS regulations, they can be subject to any number of penalties, including:

  • Civil penalties and fines ($1,000 to $11,000)
  • Taken out of service until enough off-duty time accrues
  • License suspension
  • Lowering of their safety rating
  • Possible federal criminal penalties

This can affect the truck driver’s current financial situation as well as the driver’s employment with their current trucking company and future employment with other trucking companies.

Holding Trucking Companies and Truck Drivers Accountable

If a truck driver or a trucking company engages in practices that violate HOS regulations, it’s important they be held legally liable for any injuries, property damage, or loss of life that occurs. Our law firm is here to help you and your loved ones seek justice in cases of negligence.

Learn More About Auto Accident Litigation

For more information about your legal rights and options following a truck accident, be sure to contact an experienced injury accident lawyer. We will work with you and your loved ones in your time of legal need, fighting for you every step of the way.

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