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How Hours of Service Regulations Affect Truck Accident Litigation

While they are indispensable to our national infrastructure, tractor trailers and other commercial vehicles cannot help but create a certain degree of hazard on the roads they travel. However, when drivers operate their vehicles while fatigued or otherwise distracted, that risk gets unnecessarily compounded many times over. With such a powerful and potentially dangerous instrumentality in their hands, commercial drivers are expected to operate with the utmost caution and trucking companies who profit from introducing these hazards to the public are expected to exercise great care in selecting, training and supervising these operators. When they fail to live up to these duties and injury results, our laws hold them accountable.

Commercial vehicles and drivers are subject to a plethora of regulations. However, one such regulation that frequently becomes an issue when litigating truck accidents are the Hours of Service rules imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These rules strictly limit the amount of time commercial drivers can spend behind the wheel, set minimum rest periods and require drivers to keep detailed log books to ensure compliance:

  • Truck drivers cannot put in more than 11 hours of total driving after each 10-hour break.
  • Truck drivers cannot drive if it has been more than 14 hours since their last 10-hour break.
  • Truck drivers must take a 30-minute break at least every eight hours.
  • Truck drivers cannot drive in excess of 60 hours over seven days or 70 hours over eight days unless he or she takes at least 34 consecutive hours off duty.

Unfortunately, in order to maximize profits some truck drivers and trucking companies push far beyond these mandatory limits. Some even go so far as to forge or alter their logbooks in order to conceal their noncompliance. A Collegeville trucking accident attorney can obtain and closely review these log books and other pertinent records for evidence of noncompliance and concealment when investigating cases where driver fatigue appeared to be a factor.

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