Houston Personal Injury Blog

3 Aug. 2016

Hours of Service Violations & Tired Truck Driver Accidents

Posted By Fibich, Leebron, Copeland & Briggs

Commercial TruckAs with any driver on the road, those who operate large commercial trucks are subject to laws in order to keep themselves and others safe. However, due to the large size of commercial trucks and the demanding work schedules truck drivers often face, there are additional regulations that limit how much they can drive on any given day or throughout the week before they must take mandatory breaks. Unfortunately, due to tight deadlines and a shortage of truck drivers, drivers may be encouraged to bypass these regulations and work extended hours. These violations are against the law and can have serious consequences.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Hours of Service rules were designed for trucks that carry property or passengers. It is important for trucking companies to enforce these regulations despite deadlines, as a violation could result in a tired truck driver and increase the likelihood of an accident

Hours of Service Rules for Property-Carrying Drivers:

  • A truck driver may drive a maximum of 11 hours after being off duty for 10 consecutive hours.
  • A truck driver may not drive more than 14 consecutive hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. Extended off duty time does not alter the 14-hour limit.
  • A truck driver may only drive if 8 hours or less have passed from the time the driver’s last off duty or 30-minute sleeper berth period ended.
  • A truck driver may not drive longer than 60 or 70 hours on duty in a period of 7 or 8 consecutive days, respectively. Once the driver has taken at least 34 hours off duty, the 7 or 8 consecutive day period can restart.

For drivers of passenger-carrying truck drivers, the rules are altered slightly with the 11-hour rule becoming the 10-hour rule and the 14-hour rule becoming a 15-hour limit. Passenger-carrying trucks are also subject to the 60 or 70 hour limit during 7 or 8 consecutive days. Both passenger-carrying trucks and property-carrying trucks are subject to sleeper berth provisions that require them to take specific 8-hour break periods. These periods can be split into two separate periods of no less than two hours.

It is not uncommon for truck drivers to falsify their driver logs in order to cover up an Hours of Service violation. In doing so, they may operate the large truck fatigued, increasing the chances of a serious crash. Because of the large size of the truck, any kind of collision can lead to serious injuries. However, when a truck driver is fatigued, it is a preventable act of negligence that is grounds for a personal injury lawsuit against the liable parties.

When Hours of Service violations are to blame for a crash, there are various parties who may be held accountable. This includes the truck driver for not following the rules set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or the trucking company for encouraging the truck driver to violate the regulations. In these types of cases, the liable party may be financially accountable to those who have been injured for medical expenses, lost income, and any other costs associated with the injury sustained.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a crash involving a fatigued truck driver, our Houston truck accident attorneys at Fibich, Leebron, Copeland & Briggs can help. We take the time to build a case strategy with your needs and goals in mind. We want to help you obtain justice and the compensation you need.

Contact our firm as soon as possible after an injury-causing collision and learn how we may be able to help you.

Categories: Truck Accidents
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