An overtired truck driver can be very dangerous on the roadways. For this reason, federal trucking regulations place limits on the amount of time a truck driver can spend on the road. Known as hours of service limits, these regulations are important for the safety of the public and the drivers themselves. They can also be very important in any investigation of a truck accident.
Federal regulations vary depending on if the commercial truck driver is transporting property or goods or if the commercial truck driver is transporting passengers. For truck drivers transporting property, there is an 11-hour driving limit after 10 consecutive hours off. For truck drivers transporting passengers, there is a 10-hour driving limit after 8 consecutive hours off. Rest breaks are also required. Truck drivers transporting goods may only drive if 8 hours or fewer have passed since the truck driver’s most recent off-duty or sleeper berth period of 30 minutes. Truck drivers transporting passengers are subject to a 60/70 hour limit in a 7 to 8 day consecutive period.
Truck drivers transporting property are also subject to the 60/70 hour limit in a 7 to 8 day consecutive period and may only start a new 7 to 8 day consecutive period following 34 or greater hours of consecutive hours off duty. Both truck drivers transporting property and truck drivers transporting passengers are also subject to sleeper berth requirements as part of Federal hours of service regulations. The regulations for truck drivers can sometimes be technical and complicated to understand.
These regulations are important in an investigation after a truck accident because they help establish liability. After a truck driver causes an accident that injures someone else, the truck driver may be held liable for damages, but often the trucking company may be held liable as well. If the trucking company, in violation of federal rules, pressured the driver into driving when he or she was too tired to be safe on the road, then this helps establish that the company was negligent and should be held liable.
Because the injuries that follow a truck accident are often severe, it is especially important to make sure that the injured or their loved ones recover all the compensation they deserve to cope with the aftermath of an accident. An attorney with experience in truck accident litigation can help the injured or their loved ones to understand how the law can apply to the circumstances of their case.
Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “Summary of Hours of Service Regulations,” Accessed Feb. 8, 2016