Truck Driver Fatigue
Representing Victims of Truck Driver Negligence
Truck drivers have very clear regulations on how long they are allowed to drive a truck each day and how many days per week. When they fail to follow these rules, either due to personal negligence or because of instructions from their employers, they put everyone on the road around them in danger. The results of an accident involving a massive commercial truck can be horrific, and often cause major damage with huge price tags.
We rely on truck drivers to keep the flow of commerce running from one end of the country to the other. So long as they drive responsibly, then everything works just fine. When a truck driver fails to follow the laws, however, people can be injured or die because of that recklessness. If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident with a truck driver, then call us today at Norton & Norton, P.C., at 816-454-5800 to discuss your case.
What Is Truck Driver Fatigue?
Truck drivers, like all drivers, experience fatigue after operating a vehicle for a certain amount of time. Extensive research has been done on the effects of fatigue, which shows a strong connection between the number of hours a person spends driving and the likelihood of getting into a fatigue-related accident. The risk of fatigue increases between midnight and six in the morning, and the more hours a driver has spent behind the wheel, the more likely that he or she will make a mistake that could cause a serious crash.
Hours of Service Limits
In order to combat truck driver fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which oversees commercial trucking companies and drivers, has established Hours of Service, or HOS. These set limits on how much a person can drive without taking a break. The HOS rules are different for drivers carrying property and those carrying passengers, such as bus drivers. The rules are:
- Property-Carrying Drivers: Cannot drive for more than 11 hours, and cannot go beyond a 14th hour on a shift, which includes time spent not driving (such as during loading or unloading). They must complete 10 hours off duty before they can drive again. They cannot drive for more than 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days, at which point they must spend 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
- Passenger-Carrying Drivers: Cannot drive for more than 10 hours, and cannot go beyond a 15-hour maximum on a shift, including time spent not driving. They must complete 8 consecutive hours off today before they can drive again. They may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days.
Penalties for Violations
These regulations are enforced by the U.S. Department of Transportation, as well as law enforcement officers throughout Missouri. Drivers found to have violated these rules can be put out of service, and repeat offenders can be fined between $1,000 and $11,000. Trucking companies that encourage their drivers to violate HOS regulations can also face serious fines and other penalties.
Two trucking company officials were sentenced to federal prison in 1999 after investigations revealed they routinely allowed employees to violate HOS regulations. Companies can also be placed on probation if they are found to encourage or knowingly allow drivers to violate HOS. Such actions can also be seen as gross negligence, opening these companies up to civil lawsuits for any accidents that occur.
Hit by a Drowsy Truck Driver? Call Our Attorneys
We share the road with large commercial trucks all the time, but we expect their drivers to act responsibly to ensure people around them remain safe. If you or someone you know has been in an accident with a large truck, then call us at Norton & Norton, P.C., at 816-454-5800 to talk about your options. There is no charge to speak to a Kansas City truck accident attorney, and no obligation if you do.