Navigating Truck Driver Fatigue and Hours-of-Service Rules

Discover how truck driver fatigue and Hours-of-Service rules impact road safety and how Dressie Law Firm can help if you’ve been injured in a truck accident. Schedule a free consultation today. webp to jpg (3) gif maker
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Understanding Truck Driver Fatigue and Its Impact on Road Safety

While fatigued and drowsy driving impacts everyone, truck drivers who drive long hours are especially at risk. Fatigue slows reactions and makes it harder to recognize the signs of danger.

To prevent or minimize truck driver fatigue-related accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) put in place rules and regulations that trucking companies and their drivers must comply with, including the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations.

HOS regulations dictate the maximum hours a commercial truck driver can drive. They ensure that truck drivers get enough sleep and break time to stay alert while on the road. In this article, we’ll delve into the importance of these rules in safeguarding highways and road users.

If you were involved in a truck accident caused by a fatigued truck driver, hiring a truck accident attorney will benefit you. Dressie Law Firm understands the significant impact of truck accidents on the victims, and it’s been advocating for their rights in fair compensation for decades. We can help you.

    Understanding Hours-of-Service Rules

    What Are Hours-of-Service Rules?

    The hours of service (HOS) refer to the maximum time permitted for drivers to be on or off duty. The rules limit the maximum on-duty time followed by the minimum off-duty time allowed for a commercial motor vehicle driver.

    The FMCSA hours of service regulations apply to commercial vehicle drivers who operate across state borders and belong to one of the following categories:

    • Drivers who operate vehicles weighing 10,001 pounds or more

    • Drivers transporting hazardous materials

    • Drivers moving 16 or more passengers not for profit or

    • Commercial vehicles moving nine passengers as part of a business

    Georgia Department of Public Safety enforces intrastate truck driver fatigue laws, which are similar to the FMCSA’s.

    FMCSA Hours of Service Rules

    Understanding the key components of Hours-of-Service rules is essential for truck drivers because they play a vital role in reducing fatigue-related accidents and promoting road safety.

    To provide a clear overview, let’s break down the main components of these rules:

    • Driving Limits: HOS rules specify truck drivers’ maximum allowable driving time. The driving limits rule prohibits truck drivers from being on duty for more than 14 consecutive hours. Once the 14-hour mark has been attained, the driver must take a 10-hour break before resuming driving.

    • Sleeper Berth Provision: If a truck has a sleeper berth, drivers can use it during off-duty periods for rest.

    • Mandatory Rest Periods: HOS rules mandate rest periods to prevent fatigue. Drivers must take a break of at least 30 minutes after eight hours of consecutive driving. Additionally, they must have at least ten consecutive hours off-duty for proper rest between shifts.

    • Weekly Limits: HOS rules also establish weekly limits to prevent long stretches of continuous work. The most common rule limits drivers to 60/70 hours of on-duty time in a seven/eight-day period. Once this limit is reached, a driver must take a mandatory 34-hour rest period, including at least two nights.

    • Off-Duty Time: Truck drivers must spend much of their off-duty period outside the truck’s sleeper berth. This rule promotes better rest quality and helps prevent fatigue.

    • Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs): HOS compliance is often monitored through ELDs, which automatically record a driver’s hours. All motor vehicles must be provided with an ELD.

    • Exceptions: HOS rules include exceptions to accommodate specific situations, such as adverse driving conditions or short-haul.

    Staying Safe Around Trucks and Reporting Suspected Violations

    Safety around trucks is a shared responsibility, and passenger vehicle drivers can play a crucial role in promoting safe practices and reporting violations. If you drive on a road that is also used by commercial trucks, keep these safety tips in mind:

    • Maintain Safe Distances: When driving near trucks, maintain a safe following distance to allow for longer stopping distances. Avoid tailgating, as trucks have limited visibility.

    • Stay Out of Blind Spots: Ensure you are aware of a truck’s blind spots, also known as “no-zones,” where the driver’s visibility is limited. Avoid lingering in these areas, especially alongside or behind the truck.

    • Signal Your Intentions: Use turn signals and brake lights to indicate your intentions to truck drivers. Using signals helps them anticipate your actions and react accordingly.

    • Pass Safely: When passing a truck, do so quickly and without lingering in their blind spots. Signal your lane change and give the truck ample space before merging back.

    • Be Patient: Recognize that trucks may take longer to accelerate, decelerate, and maneuver. Be patient and avoid aggressive driving behaviors around them.

    • Report Suspected Violations: If you witness a truck driver behaving recklessly or violating safety regulations, consider reporting it to the appropriate authorities.

    Who Is Liable for Accidents Caused by Truck Driver Fatigue?

    Assuming fatigue is the sole cause of a truck accident, liability often falls on the truck driver and the company to varying degrees. The trucking company may be found liable for the accident victims’ damages if it failed to adhere to and enforce HOS rules or forced the driver to violate such rules. Trucking companies can also be indirectly liable for an accident even if they did not violate the law since their employee caused it.

    While determining liability is crucial, it is only the first step to getting compensated. If you have been a drowsy truck driver accident victim, an Atlanta truck accident attorney at Dressie Law Firm can help you.

    Dressie Law Firm Can Help You

    The percentage of accidents caused by semi-trucks in the U.S. is around 9%. However, victims of such accidents are more likely to suffer more serious injuries and property damage. If you or a loved one suffered injuries due to a truck driver’s negligence, Dressie Law Firm is ready to help you get the compensation you deserve.

    Our personal injury law firm has been helping injured victims in Atlanta for two decades, and we have built a reputation for maximizing case value. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation today.

    The Dressie Law Firm Can Help You

    If you or a loved one is a victim of a reckless or negligent driver, we want you to know that the law is on your side and so is the Dressie Law Firm.

    Contact us today to schedule your free consultation!