In previous posts, we have discussed trucking accidents that have been caused by fatigued drivers. Most recently, we explored the accident that resulted in one death and serious injuries to comedian Tracy Morgan. In that post, we mentioned that the trucker accused of causing the accident was in violation of the Hours of Service regulations, leading authorities to believe fatigue played a role in the accident.
Many drivers are not familiar with these HOS regulations, as non-commercial drivers are not required to observe them. But it can be important to understand that these regulations exist and what they are, especially if you have been in an accident with a commercial truck.
The HOS regulations were established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The rules were set in an attempt to lower the number of crashes caused by fatigued truckers and set strict guidelines on how long a driver can be behind the wheel and how much rest time must be observed.
For example, a trucker hauling cargo is limited to 60-70 hours on duty in a period of 7-8 consecutive days. There are caps on how many consecutive hours a person can drive, and mandatory rest breaks and off-duty time that must be met before a person can get back behind the wheel.
These hours must be logged in a driver's logbook, either manually or electronically. The driver is expected to track the number of hours they drive, rest and are off duty. If a driver fails to keep track or falsifies these records in any way, they can be penalized for noncompliance.
But more importantly, a driver who violates the HOS regulations can be at a higher risk of driving while fatigued and causing an accident.
If a commercial driver is involved in a crash, logbook entries and possible fatigue are often discussed and explored. The HOS regulations can be confusing to understand and many drivers are unfamiliar with federal trucking laws. This is why it can be crucial to speak with an attorney after any trucking accident. If a trucking violation or other source of negligence played a role in the accident, the victims may be eligible to collect compensation.