Hours of Service Violations Often Lead to Fatigue, Avoidable Truck Accidents
Federal laws and regulations help keep our roads safe, but only if truckers and trucking companies obey them.
The margin for error is small when you’re operating a tractor-trailer that can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. That is why commercial truckers are required by federal law to limit their time behind the wheel, take mandatory breaks, and avoid driving while fatigued. Unfortunately, far too many truckers violate federal Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, work unnecessarily long hours, and cause catastrophic truck accidents that leave others severely injured or killed.
At Pajcic & Pajcic, we’ve seen first-hand how fatigued truckers who are overworked and exhausted can cause devastating collisions. We know how to carefully investigate cases involving fatigued truckers, find the facts that matter, and build rock-solid cases that hold truckers and trucking companies accountable for putting profits over safety. If you were injured or a loved one died in a crash with an 18-wheeler, contact us today to learn more about how an experienced truck accident attorney from our law firm in Jacksonville, FL, can help you.
Why do truckers violate HOS regulations?
Trucking companies often put incredible pressure on their drivers to meet unreasonable delivery deadlines and work unsafe hours—all in the name of making money. Remember, the U.S. freight trucking industry typically generates hundreds of billions in revenue each year, and the faster trucking companies can move their freight, the more money they make.
In other cases, truckers violate HOS regulations or falsify their logs so that they can make more money for themselves. Many professional truck drivers are paid by the mile. As a result, the more they work, the more money they make. This motivates some truckers to work as much as possible, which could mean they don’t take mandatory breaks, speed, or even use drugs to stay awake.
Finally, sometimes truckers run over their allotted driving hours due to poor planning by the trucking company, whether that’s failing to consider traffic patterns along the route, not accounting for roadway construction, or not adjusting delivery appointments for inclement weather. Trucking companies should always schedule shipments so that deliveries can be completed legally, but unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.
Of course, none of these are acceptable reasons to put others on the road at risk of sustaining a severe injury or dying in a truck accident caused by a fatigued truck driver.
Common HOS violations
The most common HOS violations include 11-hour and 14-hour violations; 70-hour, 8-day violations; and skipping mandatory breaks. Again, it’s common for truckers to drive longer than they’re allowed to and put themselves and others on the road at risk.
11-hour and 14-hour violations
Truckers are allowed to drive for 11 hours and be on duty during a shift for a total of 14 hours, so long as they’ve had at least 10 consecutive hours of being off duty. To be clear, “driving time” is defined as any time the trucker spends at the controls of the vehicle. The 14 hours the trucker has for a shift can include the 11 hours of driving time, breaks, and stops. Exceptions include the “adverse driving conditions exemption,” which can apply to truckers who encounter inclement weather such as rain, fog, snow, sleet, or ice. The adverse driving conditions exemption provides an additional two hours to the 11-hour and 14-hour time limits so long as the trucker or dispatcher did not know (or could not reasonably have known) about the inclement weather immediately prior to the beginning of the duty day or immediately before beginning driving.
70-hour, 8-day violations
Truckers are prohibited from being on duty for more than 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight consecutive days. Known as the 70-hour, eight-day rule, a trucker must spend at least 34 consecutive hours off duty before returning to work.
Not taking mandatory breaks
Truckers must take a 30-minute break if they’ve been driving for 8 hours without a 30-minute interruption. According to the FMCSA: “The break may be satisfied by any non-driving period of 30 consecutive minutes (i.e., on-duty not driving, off-duty, sleeper berth, or any combination of these taken consecutively).
Pajcic & Pajcic knows how to investigate trucking companies
Trucking companies and truckers who violate federal HOS regulations must be held to account when their negligence causes others to sustain severe or fatal injuries, but evidence is crucial in cases involving commercial truck accidents, and the trucking companies control much of what’s critical to your claim.
A truck accident attorney can take steps to gather and preserve evidence controlled by the trucking company to support your claim. Remember, a trucking company will have experienced legal representation looking out for its best interests after a serious truck accident. You should have someone looking out for yours.
The truck accident lawyers at Pajcic & Pajcic understand what it takes to win complex cases and can fight for the maximum compensation you deserve. We have the knowledge, experience, and resources to handle every aspect of your claim and would be honored to talk to you about the details of your case during a free and confidential case evaluation.
In one specific case involving a fatal truck accident caused by a fatigued trucker, our attorneys secured a $5.2 million verdict. Discover what we can do for you by contacting us today to learn more about your potential legal options.