Truck Accidents Caused by Hours of Service Violations

The federal government sets fairly strict deadlines for how many hours truck drivers are allowed to operate during each workday and during each workweek. These regulations are set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). There is a reason that truck drivers are regulated when it comes to hours of service, and that is to prevent fatigued driving. Here, we want to discuss vehicle accidents caused by hours of service violations.

Who is in Charge of Regulating Hours of Service?

The US Department of Transportation, specifically the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), is in charge of regulating hours of service requirements for truck drivers across the country. Additionally, state agencies also set regulations for hours of service for truck drivers, though they tend to abide by the federal hours of service requirements as well. However, trucks that only operate within a single state can follow state regulations, which may differ from current federal regulations.

What are the Hours of Service?

Currently, the federal hours of service requirements are as follows:

  • Drivers are allowed to operate for 11 total driving hours each day, and this driving must be completed within a 14-hour window.
  • No truck driver can start a new 14-hour driving window until they have been off duty for ten consecutive hours.
  • For each seven-day workweek, a truck driver can operate for 60 total hours.
  • For each eight-day workweek, a truck driver can operate 470 total hours.
  • Workweeks can be reset by a truck driver taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
  • If a driver experiences adverse conditions on the roadway, the 11-hour drive time and 14-hour driving window can be increased for up to two hours.

Securing Compensation After an Accident

Accidents involving larger commercial trucks often result in significant injuries and major property damage. If a truck driver fails to abide by the hours of service requirements, they could be held liable for any accident that occurs. This is particularly true if the driver was operating while fatigued behind the wheel. The hours of service requirements are designed to prevent truck drivers from operating when they get tired. We can think of these hours of service as a forced rest period, because otherwise, truck drivers and trucking companies would push themselves much farther than the regulations allow.

If you suspect that an hours of service violation occurred, you need to work with a skilled Irvine truck accident lawyer who can investigate every aspect of the claim. Traditionally, truck drivers kept track of their hours of service through a paper logbook, but this could be easily manipulated. Now, all truck drivers and trucking carriers are required to use an electronic logging device (ELD) that automatically tracks a driver’s hours of service by plugging directly into the truck’s engine. Even though this could still be manipulated, it is more rare for drivers to get around the requirements now.

An attorney will need to obtain the truck driver’s ELD during the course of an investigation into the accident. In the event the truck driver or trucking company is at fault for the crash, you should be entitled to compensation for medical bills, property damage expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering damages, and more.