Trucking accidents occur for a variety of reasons. Sleep deprivation, or driver fatigue, is a common cause of accidents involving tractor trailers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established regulations intended to keep the roadways safe by establishing protocol for trucking companies such as hours of service (hours spent driving or working), securing loads, weight limits, hazardous materials transport and inspection requirements.
If you’ve been involved in a trucking accident, you must investigate the possible reasons for why the crash occurred. Ask questions about how long the driver has been on the road, and whether his hours of service log is up to date. Find out if the trucking company has allowed the driver to work past the maximum allowable hours, causing him or her to drive impaired by sleep deprivation.
What are the rules about hours of service?
Federal regulations limit a truck driver’s hours of service to 14 per day. Only 11 of those hours can be spent on the road. In addition, the maximum hours a driver can work in a seven- or eight-day period is 60 or 70 hours, respectively.
If a driver works the maximum 70 hours in an eight-day period, he or she must take a resting period of no less than 34 hours, including at least two nights between the hours of 1 am and 5 am. This rule encourages drivers to rest and sleep during the times when the body physically needs it the most.
Drivers must also take at least one 30 minute break period during their initial eight hours of any shift. All breaks, hours worked and driven, and rest periods must be recorded in an official work log and trucking companies are responsible for monitoring the activity of all drivers in their employ. But some drivers may falsify their hours of service.
Why are hours of service so important?
Drivers who work too many hours and neglect breaks or important periods of rest may be more likely to lose focus while driving, fall asleep at the wheel, make poor decisions, midjudge situations and overreact to road situations.
If your accident was the result of a driver’s failure to act appropriately in a situation, that driver and/or his trucking company could be responsible for your property damage, lost time at work, medical bills and pain and suffering.
It is essential that you are on the lookout for signs of fatigue or statements made by a driver that lead you to believe that he or she might be over their limit of allowable hours of service.
How can I prove an hours of service violation?
Truck drivers are required by law to keep accurate and detailed records of their driving and work hours, and trucking companies are required to monitor those logs for validity. If you’ve been in a trucking accident, request copies of the driver’s hours of service logs. If the logs are missing or obviously lacking information, you can ask for trip tickets and bills of lading, both which contain important data regarding the times when a driver picked up or delivered a load. By using this data, the total hours worked by a driver can be calculated with accuracy.
What does an hours of service violation mean for my claim?
If the driver of the truck in your accident is in violation of the hours of service regulations, it may be used as proof of fault in your claim. Especially in cases where fault is in question or the driver or trucking company is refusing to accept responsibility, you might need the driving logs or other data to prove that your crash and resulting damages were caused by a fatigued driver.
Call Cordisco & Saile LLC for Help after a Pennsylvania Truck Accident
If you have been involved in a trucking accident and need legal representation, Cordisco & Saile LLC can help. We can help you draft a spoliation letter to the trucking company to preserve hours of service records and other important evidence. Call us today at 215-642-2335 to set up a free consultation.