Federal Hours of Service Regulations Important Tool for Keeping Highways Safe

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,675 people were killed and an additional 80,000 injured in accidents involving large commercial trucks in 2010, the last year for which statistics are available. A total of 276,000 large trucks were involved in accidents in 2010.

One factor in many of these crashes was truck driver fatigue. Drivers often face pressure from trucking companies and customers to deliver their goods under strict deadlines and, too often, this causes them to push their physical limits. Because of the size and weight of commercial trucks, they require more room to maneuver and greater distances to stop than typical passenger vehicles. This means that a tired driver poses a threat not only to himself, but also to other drivers on the road.

In order to help prevent driver fatigue from becoming a safety issue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has implemented Hours of Service (HOS) regulations that must be followed by all drivers and trucking companies. Among other things, the rules set limits with respect to:

  • Driving hours: Commercial truck drivers may not drive for more than 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • On-duty limit: Drivers may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver restarts his 7/8 consecutive day period only after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
  • Sleeper berths: Drivers who use a sleeper berth on the road must spend at least eight consecutive hours in the berth, plus an additional two hours either in the berth, off duty, or a combination of the two.

When on the road, drivers must keep records showing how they spent their time. By rule, logbooks must include information about miles traveled on particular dates, total hours on duty and off duty, as well as information about cargo and carrier. An agent can inspect a driver’s logbook at any time to ensure compliance with the rules. If a driver has falsified his records or has not complied with the HOS requirements, he and his employer face serious penalties.

A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

If you or someone you love has suffered serious injury in a truck accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can assess your case and help you get the fair and adequate compensation you deserve for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. For more information about what a personal injury attorney can do for you, contact a lawyer today.