Truck drivers’ hours of service are limited for good reason

Multiple studies in recent years have shown that drowsy driving is a major cause of auto accidents. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated that at least…

Multiple studies in recent years have shown that drowsy driving is a major cause of auto accidents. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated that at least 100,000 crashes each year result directly from driver fatigue.

While all drivers should avoid drowsy driving, the risk of a serious accident may be significantly higher when a truck or bus driver is sleepy while behind the wheel. That is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, regulates truck and bus drivers’ hours of service and requires those drivers to log their hours.

There are some slight differences in the hours-of-service limits for truck drivers and bus drivers. The FMCSA categorizes truck drivers as property-carrying drivers and bus drivers as passenger-carrying drivers.

Property-carrying drivers are allowed to operate their vehicles for no more than 11 hours after an off-duty period of 10 consecutive hours. The driving limit for passenger-carrying vehicles is 10 hours after eight consecutive hours off duty.

Truck and bus drivers’ jobs also require them to be on duty when they aren’t behind the wheel, whether for vehicle maintenance or some other reason. FMCSA regulations take this into account.

Truck drivers are not allowed to drive once they reach the 14th consecutive hour on the job after 10 consecutive hours off duty, and bus drivers are not allowed to drive once they reach the 15th consecutive hour on the job after eight consecutive hours off duty.

Unfortunately, these rules are often broken, and there have been many cases of truck and bus drivers falsifying their hours-of-service logs.

To learn more about these matters and what to do after a collision with a large commercial vehicle, please see MHK Attorneys’ “Five Things You Need To Know About Truck Accidents.”

A lawyer can level the playing field after your truck accident

You’ve been hit by a truck. It came out of nowhere and did a lot of damage. Now, seriously injured, you’re dealing with the stress, anxiety, pain and fear of…

You’ve been hit by a truck. It came out of nowhere and did a lot of damage. Now, seriously injured, you’re dealing with the stress, anxiety, pain and fear of major medical treatment — just when you also can’t work. You’re worried about how you’ll possibly pay for everything. The trucker’s insurance adjuster wants to talk. What on earth should you do?

There are at least five things you need to know:

The playing field is not level. There’s a wide information gap between you and the other side. You probably don’t know how to access critical information like what caused the accident, which party or parties are responsible, and how much compensation you will need. The other side knows a lot more — including how to make an inadequate settlement offer look pretty good.

Think the accident wasn’t your fault? You’re probably right. It’s fair to say the majority of truck accidents are the result of negligence, either by the truck driver or the trucking company. Drivers may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, distracted, lost, speeding, or violating other traffic laws. The company may be pressuring drivers to work many hours without enough sleep. Its trucks may be poorly maintained, or they may be improperly loaded. Truckers and companies can cut a variety of corners — and they often do.

The trucking company will act quickly to limit its liability. The moment the trucking company learns of the accident, its lawyers and insurance company will leap into action. They’ll send investigators to the accident scene, looking for ways to minimize the negative consequences — to them.

Insurance companies don’t get rich by being generous. The insurance adjuster may seem friendly, interested, and ready to make a quick settlement offer. Unfortunately, accepting a quick settlement offer is usually a mistake. The sooner an offer is made, the less likely it is to reflect the real costs of your accident because that information isn’t available yet.

When trucks hit cars, cars lose. Big time. A poorly maintained or negligently-operated truck is capable of enormous destruction. It’s common to suffer life-altering injuries like brain or spinal cord trauma that could require millions in medical treatment and a lifetime of care.

After a truck accident, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer to level the playing field and make sure any settlement is truly in your best interest.