The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) cites driver fatigue as a leading cause of U.S. commercial motor vehicle crashes. Driver fatigue is impaired performance caused by insufficient sleep, long work hours, strenuous labor or other mental or physical exertion. Tough and unrealistic deadlines set by trucking firms may encourage drivers to rush and skirt safety measures. Fatigue can cause slowed response time, limited attention, reckless decision making and nodding off at the wheel.
To help minimize truck accidents caused by driver fatigue, the FMCSA regulates the number of hours commercial drivers may work per day and the rest periods they must take. Hours-of-service (HOS) regulations provide, among other things, that truck drivers:
- may drive a maximum of 11 hours during a 14-hour day after 10 consecutive hours off duty
- may not drive after 14 hours of being on duty after 10 consecutive hours off duty
- may not drive after 60 or 70 hours on duty in seven or eight consecutive days, respectively
- may only restart their seven- or eight-day period of consecutive days after taking a minimum of 34 hours off duty
New HOS regulations effective on September 29, 2020 offer drivers increased flexibility in their scheduling. Among other updates, the new regulations require drivers to take a 30-minute break after eight hours of driving time (rather than on-duty time). An on-duty period without driving may qualify as a break.
Tragically, many drivers disregard HOS regulations and continue to drive past legal limits, increasing the potential for serious and even fatal truck accidents.
If you or someone you care about has been hurt in a truck accident involving a fatigued driver, talk to a personal injury attorney with experience in commercial vehicle cases. Your attorney can help you obtain logbooks, electronic records, cellular data, and other important evidence to prove an HOS violation was behind the crash.
The legal team at Kaufman & McPherson, PLLC has more than 30 years of experience helping West Virginians stand up to powerful trucking companies. Our truck accident lawyers can help you prove your case and obtain the compensation you need to cover medical bills, lost wages, and more. To schedule a free case evaluation, call our Bridgeport office at 304-842-4300 or contact us online.