Truck Driver Fatigue and Hours of Service Regulations
While many factors can contribute to semi truck accidents, driver fatigue may be a common culprit. Studies have suggested that driving while fatigued can be as dangerous as driving while intoxicated since both can cause reduced reaction times and impaired judgment. Truck drivers are particularly vulnerable to driver fatigue since their jobs require them to be behind the wheel for long hours. That’s why there are strict guidelines regulating how many hours a truck driver may work each day.
These hours of service regulations are put in place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) which is a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The FMCSA’s primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle–related fatalities and injuries. By limiting the hours truck drivers can work in a given period of time, they help to reduce the chance of driver fatigue and therefore improve safety for truck drivers and others on the road. However, these regulations are regularly violated causing devastating accidents. If you or a loved one has been in a semi truck accident in Tampa, contact the Capaz Law firm today.
Hours of Service Regulations
Truck drivers must always remain in compliance with these three maximum duty limits.
- 14-Hour Duty Limit. As soon as a driver begins any kind of work, he or she is considered on duty. A driver may remain on duty for 14 consecutive hours. When a driver has reached their 14-hour limit, he or she may not drive again until after going off duty for 10 consecutive hours. Note: Once a driver’s 14-hour period begins, it does not stop even if the driver takes a break.
- 11-Hour Driving Limit. During a driver’s 14-hour period on duty, no more than 11 of those 14 hours may be spent driving. When a driver has reached their 11-hour driving limit, he or she may not drive again until going off duty for 10 consecutive hours.
- 60/70-Hour Duty Limit. If a driver’s company does not operate vehicles 7 days a week, he or she may be on duty for a maximum of 60 hours in a 7-day period. Once the 60-hour limit is reached, he or she may not drive again until their hours drop below 60 within a period of 7 consecutive days. However, for drivers whose company does operate 7 days a week, their limit is 70 hours on duty within an 8-day period. Once a driver reaches that limit, he or she may not drive until total hours have dropped below 70 in a period of 8 consecutive days.
There are specific exceptions to these regulations to account for things like unexpected weather conditions and time spent in sleeper berths, however, these three rules should otherwise be followed at all times to prevent driver fatigue.
Over Hours Violations
While drivers are required to keep records of their hours, it is easy to falsify log books if a driver goes over the maximum hours allowed. Drivers may do this to make more money if they get paid by the mile or if their company offers rewards for finishing a job ahead of schedule. In some instances, employers may even encourage drivers to violate over hours limits. When this happens, drivers are more likely to become fatigued and pose a danger to everyone on the road.
After a semi truck accident occurs, it’s important to determine whether driver fatigue was a contributing factor. Therefore, the driver’s log books become a crucial piece of evidence since it will indicate whether the driver was in violation of the law during the time of the accident. However, it is not uncommon for these records to get lost or altered before they ever make it to court. That’s why it’s so important to contact an experienced semi truck accident lawyer as soon as possible to help secure this evidence for your case.
Contact a Semi Truck Accident Lawyer in Tampa
If you or a loved one has been in a semi truck accident in Tampa, contact the Capaz Law firm to speak with an experienced semi truck accident lawyer today. We will fight aggressively to hold the at-fault party accountable and get you the compensation you need to recover. Call for your free consultation.