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Federal Hours of Service Requirements Help Keep Drowsy Truck Drivers off the Highway

According to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,675 people were killed and an additional 80,000 people were injured in motor vehicle accidents involving large trucks in 2010, the last year for which statistics are available. In all, 276,000 large commercial trucks were involved in accidents in 2010.

Although the causes of these accidents varied, one contributing factor in many crashes was truck driver fatigue. Commercial truck drivers are often under tremendous pressure to meet unrealistic delivery deadlines. As a result, some drivers may push themselves to the point of exhaustion, which can make them a hazard to other drivers on the road.

In order to combat the problem of trucker fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has enacted Hours of Service (HOS) rules that dictate the amount of time truck drivers are allowed to be behind the wheel. Specifically, the rules cover:

  • Driving Time: drivers may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty
  • On-duty Limit: a driver may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. The 7/8 consecutive day period may be restarted if a driver takes 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
  • Sleeper Berths: a driver using his sleeper berth must take at least eight consecutive hours in the berth, plus an additional two hours either in the berth, off duty or a combination of the two.

Drivers must keep detailed logs of the time they spend both on and off duty, as well as miles traveled and information about their cargo and carrier. Agents may inspect a driver’s log book at any time to make sure that he is following the rules and taking the breaks the law requires. If a driver fails to comply with the rules, the FMCSA can levy stiff penalties against both the driver and his employer.

A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

If you or someone you love has been injured in a motor vehicle accident due to the negligence of someone driving a large commercial truck, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can assess your case and help you get the fair and adequate compensation you deserve for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. For more information about what a personal injury attorney can do for you, contact a lawyer today.

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