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Truckers: Fatigue & Hours of Service Violations

In the United States, truck accidents claim a small percentage of the total number of traffic crashes and fatalities that happen each year; however, of the trucking accidents that do occur – they are likely to cause much worse property damage and injuries due to the size and weight of the trucks.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2012, 3330,000 large trucks were involved in traffic crashes. As a result of these accidents, 104,000 people were injured and another 3,921 were killed.

A Common Cause: Truck Driver Fatigue

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was established in January of 2000 with one mission: to prevent commercial vehicle related accidents, injuries and fatalities.

The Administration discovered that truck driver fatigue was one of the main causes of truck accidents, and that it was not uncommon for truckers, sometimes under the pressure of their employers, to push their physical limits and drive while significantly sleep deprived.

Due to this concern, the FMCSA enforces what are called the Hours of Service Regulations, or HOS Regulations. In general, if a driver operates a commercial vehicle that weighs 10,001 pounds or more, they must follow the HOS Regulations, and if they violate them, the driver faces penalties.

Hours of Service Rules for Property Carrying Drivers:

  • An 11-hour daily driving limit after 10 hours off duty.
  • Cannot drive over 14 straight hours after coming on duty, following 10 hours off duty.
  • Can only drive if 8 hours or less has passed since last rest break of at least 30 minutes.
  • Cannot drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 days in a row.

While the FMCSA's HOS Regulations are sensible, unfortunately it is common practice for truck drivers to knowingly violate them, thereby putting other motorists' lives at risk.

Truck driver fatigue can have deadly consequences, as sleep deprivation leads to:

  • Tailgating
  • Concentration problems
  • Difficulty keeping head up
  • Drifting from lane to lane
  • Hitting a shoulder or a ramp
  • Irritability, thus aggressive driving
  • Falling asleep at the wheel

As you can imagine, truck driver fatigue is extremely dangerous, and an unethical practice among negligent truck drivers. If you were injured at the hands of a fatigued truck driver, there is a possibility that he or she violated the federal Hours of Service Regulations, thus it would be wise to explore this possibility further.

Contact DeLorenzo, Grasso & Dalmata 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for assistance!