Truck Accidents and Hours of Service Violations

Personal Injury

Commercial large truck driver suffering from fatigueAccording to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), commercial trucks drove 450.4 billion miles in 2015. That’s a substantial number to consider, and should serve as a reminder of the potential hazards of large trucks. Tractor-trailer crashes and commercial truck accidents can cause catastrophic injuries, and it’s important to have skilled attorneys on your side if you have been harmed in a collision.

The Indianapolis, IN auto accident lawyers of Golitko & Daly would like to consider hours of service violations and the role they play in large truck collisions. Attorneys Matthew Golitko and John P. Daly can go over these matters with you in greater detail during an in-person legal consultation.

The Dangers of Driver Fatigue

Long hours awake and/or behind the wheel can take its toll on your energy level. It’s possible to fall asleep behind the wheel if you are not careful. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note that out of all adult drivers, 1 in 25 report falling asleep behind the wheel in the last 30 days.

The numbers can be quite substantial in commercial trucking given the distances covered by the drivers. According to the Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS), 13 percent of truck drivers reported being drowsy at the time of their collision.

Why Hours of Service Regulations Are in Place

Given the dangers of crashes we’ve noted above, hours of service regulations were put in place to help reduce the risk of fatigue for commercial drivers. These regulations were developed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

By limiting the amount of time a truck driver can spend on the road each day and each week, the chances of fatigue are reduced, improving safety for large truck drivers and the motorists who share the road with these large commercial vehicles.

Basic Hours of Service Guidelines

The basic hours of service guidelines are as follows:

  • 14-Hour Driving Window – This 14-hour driving window means that truck drivers can only be on-duty for 14 hours a day. They must rest for 10 hours before being back on duty.
  • 11-Hour Driving Limit – During this 14-hour driving window, truck drivers can only operate their vehicle for 11 hours. After 8 hours, a truck driver must take a mandatory 30-minute break.
  • 60/70-Hour Duty Limit – If a trucking company operates vehicles every day of the week, their drivers must cap their on-duty time to 70 hours during any 8 consecutive day period. If a trucking company does not operate vehicles every day of the week, their drivers must cap their on-duty time to 60 hours during any 7 consecutive day period.
  • 34-Hour Restart – Truck drivers can restart their 60-hour or 70-hour work clock by logging at least 34 hours of consecutive off-duty time. Truck drivers are allowed to spend some of this 34-hour off-duty period in a sleeper berth.

How Drivers May Violate These Regulations

Even truck drivers are expected to adhere to these regulations, there are instances of drivers falsifying their hours and driving well beyond the specific times. Drivers must not ignore these regulations as they could endanger themselves and others in the process.

Trucking Companies Must Be Diligent as Well

In addition to drivers violating hours of service numbers, trucking companies may not be diligent in holding their drivers accountable. They may also be overworking their drivers despite the hours of service regulations. Trucking companies must also be held accountable for any work or driver violations if they occur.

Contact Our Team of Attorneys

If you would like to learn more about your legal rights and options in a commercial truck collision, be sure to contact our team of injury accident lawyers. The attorneys of Golitko & Daly are here to help. You can reach our Indianapolis office by phone at (317) 792-8622.