Hours of Service Rules for Truck Drivers
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is a governmental body that regulates, among other things, long-haul trucking, for the purposes of keeping both truck drivers and passenger vehicle drivers safe. These rules dictate national standards for the size and weight of trucks, the transportation of hazardous materials, and limits on how many hours in a day that truckers may legally drive. Under federal law, long-haul drivers of semi-trucks and tractor trailers over a certain weight may be on duty for up to 14 hours each day, and can spend 11 of those hours driving. The drivers are required to take a 30-minute break at some point before hitting eight consecutive hours on the road, and must take a minimum of ten hours of off-duty time each day. Authorities monitor compliance with these rules by requiring that all drivers keep a log book of when their shifts begin and end, and when they took their breaks. Some transport companies have equipped their trucks with electronic logs, so that the miles driven and number of engine stops and starts is automatic. However, manual log books are still permitted, and drivers are required to complete them each time they drive.
These so-called Hours of Service regulations may not seem to have a lot of significance to the average driver, but they do. Tractor-trailers and semi-trucks can be extremely dangerous, and they become especially so when driven by a negligent or sleep-deprived driver. When large trucks and passenger vehicles are involved in a crash, the driver of the other vehicle is killed or injured 73% of the time, while the driver of the truck is hurt or killed only 18% of the time, and about ¼ of all fatal motor vehicle accidents involve a large truck. Additionally, truck driver fatigue has been cited as the leading cause of truck driver error.
While rules govern how many hours long-haul truckers are permitted to be on the road, the carrier companies employing these drivers exert pressure on their drivers to travel as many miles in as short a time as possible. This incentivizes drivers to drive outside of those hours permitted by the Hours of Service regulations, and to falsify logbooks to reflect compliance. Finding an attorney with thorough knowledge of the rules governing truck drivers who knows how best to gather evidence showing a failure of those drivers to comply with applicable rules can make all the difference in ensuring that those injured in crashes with semis are fully compensated for their injuries and losses.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of an accident with a tractor-trailer or semi in the New York Hudson Valley, contact Rusk, Wadlin, Heppner & Martuscello at 845-331-4100.