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Why Truck Driver Service Hours Play a Role in Your Accident Claim

Driving in the Rain

A few years ago, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) instilled strict rules for truck driver service hours – specifically regarding how long they could drive and when they were required to take a break. Most drivers are required to follow these regulations if they drive a commercial motor vehicle. Commercial motor vehicles are not just semi-trucks, either; instead, they are classified as any vehicle that is 10,001 pounds or more and/or is designed to transport 9+ passengers for compensation, and if the vehicle’s gross weight limit is 10,001 pounds or more.

Accidents with large commercial trucks, due to their sheer size, can be extremely dangerous – and often, can lead to fatalities or long-term, serious injuries. When the driver is not properly rested, the risk for a lethal accident becomes more imminent.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), drowsy or impaired driving are major contributing factors in accidents involving large trucks and buses. To reduce the number of accidents, or even the risk of those accidents, the FMCSA implemented new service hour (HOS) regulations, which became effective July 2013. These rules limit how long a driver can legally work, and how many mandated rest hours must be met before he or she starts the new shift.

What are the Hours of Service Regulations for Commercial Truck Operators?

Under the new FMCSA hours of service regulations, truck drivers carrying property cannot drive for longer than 11 hours at one time after having 10 off-duty hours. They also cannot drive beyond the 14th hour after returning to duty, and their off-duty time must not extend the 14-hour limit.

Drivers are also restricted and cannot drive after a total of 60 hours on duty after seven consecutive days, or after 70 hours on duty for eight consecutive days. Lastly, drivers are required to have 34 consecutive hours or more off duty before they can start up a new seven or eight-day work period. Then, they must also take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of each shift.

When a Driver Violates HOS Regulations

Most accidents in the United States are a result of drivers or employers failing to adhere to the HOS regulations. When drivers continue to drive for more than eight hours at a time, they are twice as likely to be involved in an accident – according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The study also revealed that most log books for drivers were falsified in personal injury claims – trying to shield the company from any accusation of HOS violations.

Filing a Claim Against a Company for Driver Fatigue

If you have been seriously injured in an accident with a driver of a large commercial vehicle or you lost a loved one in a truck accident incident, your best course of action is to contact a truck accident attorney in New York. The team at Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. can help. We are here to thoroughly investigate your accident and determine which party is at-fault for your injuries – and also determine if HOS violations were a factor. Get started by contacting us for a no-obligation consultation at 1-888-575-6410, or fill out our online contact form with your questions.