According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), professional truck drivers traveled over 279 billion miles in 2014, and there are an estimated 15.5 million trucks on the road in the United States. While the trucking industry provides an essential service to all Americans, these large vehicles can pose a grave danger to passenger vehicle occupants in the event of a crash.
Dangers of Truck Driver Fatigue
Working long hours on a consistent basis can lead to fatigue among truck drivers and increases the risk of an accident. According to a study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), driver fatigue was a factor in more than 12 percent of the total accidents involving large trucks in 2012. In response, the FMCSA, which is responsible for regulating the trucking industry, developed new hours of service regulations in 2013 to help reduce the number of trucking accidents due to driver fatigue.
FMCSA Hours of Service Regulations
The new hours of service regulations became effective on July 1, 2013 and further restricts the amount of time commercial truck drivers can be on duty and the number of hours driving. As of 2013, the hours of service rules include the following:
- Truck drivers carrying property may not drive more than 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- Truck drivers carrying property may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.
- There is a mandatory 30-minute break required after eight hours of driving.
- Truck drivers may not drive after 60 hours on duty in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours on duty in 8 consecutive days.
- Truck drivers must have 34 or more consecutive hours off duty before they can start a new 7 or 8 consecutive day work period.
Hours of Service Violations
Truck drivers are required to maintain a logbook of their driving hours. In 2015, FMCSA adopted a new rule requiring the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) as a means of bolstering commercial truck drivers’ compliance with hours of service regulations. Since 1938, truck drivers had been using pencil and paper to maintain their own log books of on-duty/off-duty time.
The paper system is difficult to verify and it is common for truck drivers to falsify their log books so they can work longer hours to increase their income. The ELD is expected to address the compliance problem by automatically recording driving time. It is estimated that the required use of ELDs will prevent deaths and injuries due to accidents involving large trucks. The new rule will take effect in December of 2017.
Experienced Representation For Your Houston Truck Accident Case
When trucks drivers fail to comply with hours of service regulations and do not get adequate rest, the results can be catastrophic. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident involving a commercial truck, contact The Krist Law Firm, P.C. for help.
At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., we can investigate your accident to determine liability and pursue the compensation you deserve. Our investigation into possible safety violations is just one part of a multi-faceted approach to truck accident lawsuits that also includes reviews of maintenance and repair records, logbooks, and any other factors that may have contributed to the accident.
We have extensive experience helping people injured in accidents involving commercial trucks, and we will fight to obtain the maximum possible compensation in your case. Contact us today at (281) 283-8500 to learn how we can help. We offer a free consultation and charge no fees unless you recover compensation for your injuries.