Commercial truck drivers carry goods throughout this state and country. The vehicles they drive are large and can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds when fully loaded, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If a truck driver gets into an accident, the results can be devastating. Because of this, both the federal and state governments place hours of service (HOS) regulations on truck drivers to help prevent fatigued driving accidents.
What are hours of service regulations?
Truck drivers and trucking companies are required to comply with various state and federal regulations. All truck drivers and companies follow FMCSA hours of service regulations if they transport goods across state lines. According to these regulations:
- A truck driver is allowed 11 hours of driving time in a 14-hour driving window. This 14-hour period includes any needed breaks for a nap, restroom break, or food break. The 14-hour period begins after a driver has been off-duty for 10 consecutive hours.
- A driver must take a 30-minute break if they have been driving for more than eight consecutive hours.
- There is a 60/70-hour limit in place for on-duty driving time over 7/8 consecutive days. A driver can restart a 7/8 day consecutive period by taking 34 or more consecutive hours off-duty.
Why are hours of service regulations enforced?
These regulations are important for roadway safety. Because of the size and weight of commercial trucks, any tractor-trailer accident on the roadway can be devastating, particularly for those in passenger vehicles. It is not uncommon for drivers and passengers in regular vehicles to sustain the following injuries in the event of a crash with a large truck:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Open head injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Whiplash injuries
- Severe lacerations
- Internal organ damage
- Internal bleeding
- Broken and dislocated bones
According to the FMCSA, there were more than 4,700 fatalities and around 148,000 injuries due to collisions with large trucks during the latest reporting year in the US. There were 214 large truck fatalities in Georgia during that same year.
How to prove and hours of service violation
Proving an hours of service violation in the aftermath of a car accident can be difficult. There are several methods that truck drivers are required to use to keep track of their hours of service, but a trucking company or truck driver could falsify some of these documents to cover up violations. Some of the records that could be useful to prove an hours of service violation include:
- Logbooks. Truckers are required to keep a record of their driving information in a log and they could show violations of the hours of service. These logs could be doctored or falsified by truck driver or company, so further information may be required.
- Electronic records. Any truck that is a model-year 2000 or newer must have electronic logging devices installed. This rule took effect recently, and these devices automatically record the trucker’s hours of service.
- Cell data. Documents including call logs, text messages, GPS activity, emails, and more can help prove a truck driver’s activity during their hours of service.
- Pre- and post-trip inspection records. These inspections are required under FMCSA rules, and documentation of these inspections could help prove an hours of service violation.
- Bills of landing. These documents are often time-stamped by the shipper or receiver of the goods the truck driver is carrying.
- Receipts. Weigh station records, tollbooth tickets, gas station receipts, food receipts, and more can all establish a trucker’s timeline.
An accident with a tractor-trailer often results in severe injuries and property damage, contact a lawyer to represent you during the claims process and secure compensation for your losses.