How Hours of Service Violations & Truck Driver Fatigue Cause Accidents
Truck driver fatigue is a leading factor in many of the almost 4,000 truck accidents that occur each year according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). To combat accidents caused by truck driver fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) passed updated hours of service rules for truck drivers, which went into effect on July 1, 2013.
At the time of their approval, the FMCSA predicted the new regulations would prevent 19 deaths and 560 injuries in approximately 1,400 crashes each year.
What are the current hours of service regulations?
The FMCSA first announced the latest update to their hours of service rules in December 2011, and the regulations went into full effect in July of 2013.
According to the updated rules:
- Drivers may not drive more than an average of 70 hours per week, a drastic decrease from the previous maximum of 82 hours
- They can exceed the above maximum if they rest for at least 34 consecutive hours, and get two nights of sleep
- Drivers must take at least one 30-minute break during each eight-hour shift
- Drivers can only drive a maximum of 11 hours a day, with a 14-hour work day
Truckers must keep either manual or electronic logbooks to record their driving time, breaks and rest. Trucking companies audit these logbooks regularly to ensure all drivers follow these rules.
If the FMCSA discovers problems with the logs, e.g., driving over the allowed hours, violators may face civil sanctions. Drivers could owe a total of $2,750 per offense and trucking companies that allow drivers to break these rules could receive fines of up to $11,000 per offense. Drivers also face CDL suspensions after multiple violations.
Who is liable if I suffer injuries due to a fatigued truck driver?
If you or a loved one suffered injuries due to a truck driver who fell asleep at the wheel or drove while fatigued, you may be eligible to file a claim or a lawsuit for compensation to cover your damages.
Because of a concept known as vicarious liability, the truck driver and the trucking company may both be responsible for your injuries.
How Can Brauns Law, PC help?
Brauns Law, PC works with the victims of truck accidents in and around Atlanta. With three major interstates converging in the Atlanta area, there is no shortage of traffic or truck accidents.
Fortunately, you may have legal options to receive compensation. Contact us today at 404-348-0889 to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation with a compassionate truck accident attorney who will fight to protect your rights.