Hours of Service Rules and Truck Driver Fatigue

Knowledgeable attorneys fighting for the rights of trucking accidents victims in and around Southaven, Olive Branch and Hernando

The leading cause of all motor vehicle accidents –including truck accidents – is driver error. One of the biggest and completely preventable driver errors is drowsy driving. Truck crashes kill approximately 5,000 people and injure more than 150,000 along the highways and local roads in the United States. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), truck driver fatigue, or falling asleep at the wheel, kills more than 750 people each year and causes 20,000 injuries.

Taylor, Jones & Taylor offers aggressive and comprehensive representation to people injured in trucking accidents. Whether you are a driver who has been forced to ignore the Hours of Service regulations by your employer, or you were struck by a drowsy truck driver, the firm has the skills, resources and experience handling trucking accident cases that you want on your side. With offices in Southaven, Hernando and Olive Branch, there is always a skilled motor vehicle accident lawyer nearby when you need one.

FMCSA Hours of Service Rules

Because many truck drivers get paid according to how many miles they drive, time spent not driving equals money lost. Both drivers and trucking companies may sidestep the rules that were put in place to address the hazard posed by fatigued drivers, putting their lives and the lives of those with whom they share the road in danger.

The FMCSA is the agency that governs the commercial trucking industry under the U.S. Department of Transportation. They instituted the Hours of Service (HOS) rules which limit the number of hours commercial truck drivers can be behind the wheel, and how much off-duty time is required by law, for truck drivers to take between shifts. The impetus behind these rules was the hope that it might contribute to the reduction in the number of fatalities and injuries from accidents caused by drowsy truck drivers.

To which drivers do the HOS rules apply?

In general it is a truck, or truck-tractor with a trailer, that is involved in interstate commerce and:

  • Weighs (including any load) 10,001 pounds (4,536 kg) or more, or
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds (4,536 kg) or more, or
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards.

Summary of rules for property carrying drivers:

In general, the HOS rules ensure that drivers:

  • May drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • May not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.
  • May drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since end of driver’s last off-duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30 minutes.
  • Must take at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, if they are using the sleeper berth provision, plus a separate 2 consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or any combination of the two.

When an accident occurs involving a commercial truck and a passenger vehicle or any other kind of motor vehicle, investigators will pay close attention to the driver’s logbooks to see whether or not he or she have been following the HOS rules and if fatigue might have played a role in the crash. Egregious violations of the HOS rules could garner the maximum penalties for each offense, which include an $11,000 fine for each offense for the trucking company, and $2,750 fine for the driver.

The attorneys at Taylor, Jones & Taylor are experienced at investigating commercial truck accidents. They know how to determine who is at fault, and they are dedicated to holding the at-fault party responsible for the damages their clients have suffered. In particular, the firm offers skilled representation to those injured along US Highway 78, US Interstate 55, US Interstate 69, US Highway 61 and US Highway 72.

Contact a Southaven truck accident attorney to schedule a consultation today

Injuries sustained from a truck accident can be devastating and permanent. It is the mission of the attorneys at Taylor, Jones & Taylor to protect the legal rights of those injured in accidents and to safeguard their right to fair compensation when they have been injured due to the negligence of another. You are welcome to call 662-342-1300, or fill out this contact form to make an appointment at one of the firm’s offices in Southaven, Hernando or Olive Branch. How may we help today?

The firm serves clients in Olive Branch, Byhalia, Victoria, Red Banks, Holly Springs, Potts Camp, Myrtle, New Albany, Blue Springs, Sherman, Tupelo, Moorevile, Fulton, and Tremont along US Highway 78; Southaven, Horn Lake, Nesbit, Pleasant Hill, Hernando, Coldwater, Senatobia, Como, Sardis, Batesville, Courtland, Pope, Enid, Tillatoba, Hardy, Grenada, Winona, Vaiden, Durant, Goodman, Pickens, Vaughn, Canton, Madison, Ridgeland and Jackson along US Interstate 55 / Interstate 69; Walls, Hollywood, Tunica Casinos, Tunica, Dundee, Lula, Coahoma, Lyon, Clarksdale, Alligator, Duncan, Shelby, Mound Bayou, Merigold, Cleveland, Shaw and Leland along US Highway 61; and Mount Pleasant, Slayden, Lamar, Walnut, Corinth, Burnsville, Iuka and Oldham along US Highway 72 in North Mississippi.