Fatigued drivers pose a significant risk to other motorists on the road. Driver fatigue can severely limit a person’s ability to properly maintain control of a motor vehicle. If truck drivers are involved in an accident, and it can be shown that they were fatigued or in violation of the federal regulations governing working hours, they can be held liable for negligence. If you have been injured in a truck accident or a loved one has suffered a catastrophic injury or wrongful death, the Orlando Trucking Accident Attorneys at Michael T. Gibson, P.A. can help.
Hours of Service Regulations
In 2003, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)issued sweeping changes regulating the hours of operation for commercial motor vehicle drivers. In 2005, those trucking regulations were slightly revised. The hours of service regulations were implemented to help mitigate the risk posed by fatigued drivers.
In order to meet deadlines, make up for lost time, earn bonuses with extra stops, and to arrive home as early as possible at the end of a delivery, many truck drivers stay on the road for extended periods of time, often with little or no sleep. Unfortunately, driving while fatigued or drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Maximum Hours of Service
The FMCSA regulates hours of service for long-haul commercial motor vehicle drivers who transport passengers and property, as well as for short-haul truck drivers. Truck drivers carrying property must abide by the following rules (the regulations for drivers carrying passengers and for short-haul drivers differ slightly):
- May drive no more than 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- May not drive past the 14th hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- May not drive more than 60 hours in a seven-day period or more than 70 hours in eight days..
- A driver may not restart a work period of seven or eight days before taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
- Drivers using a sleeper berth must take 10 hours off duty, with eight consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and two hours in the sleeperberth, off duty, or a combination of the two.
Trucking regulations can be very complex. The Orlando Trucking Accident Attorneys at Michael T. Gibson, P.A. have an exhaustive understanding of trucking laws, and can apply their knowledge and experience to your case.
Exemptions from Regulation
There are some exceptions to the hours of service regulations that allow a truck driver to exceed standard limits. If the defendants claim that they fall under such exemption, our truck accident lawyers can thoroughly investigate your case and help determine the facts. If the following do not apply to a defendant, he or she can be held liable for violations of hours of service regulations:
- A driver who encounters adverse driving conditions and cannot, because of those conditions, safely complete the run within the maximum driving time permitted may drive for not more than two additional hours in order to complete that run or to reach a place offering safety to the commercial motor vehicle, its occupants, and its cargo.
- In case of any emergency, a driver may complete his or her run without being in violation of regulations if the run reasonably could have been completed absent the emergency.
- Short-haul drivers are not required to keep records-of-duty status (RODS).
Long-haul truck drivers are required to log the total number of hours in a given day that they are A) off-duty; B) on-duty but not driving; C) driving; and D)utilizing their sleeper berth (if applicable). The government mandates that these logs be filled out, as a truck driver cannot be required to testify against him or herself in court. The driver logs, however, can be used as evidence in a court of law to aid in the prosecution of a defendant. If a driver destroys the log, it may be presumed that it was destroyed because it contained evidence detrimental to the driver or carrier. Such action could be grounds for prosecution.
Need More Information About Driver Fatigue and Trucking Regulations?
If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Call 407-490-1271 to speak directly with an Orlando Truck Accident Attorney to schedule a free consultation we are committed to protecting victims’ rights.