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Federal Hours of Service Regulations to Prevent Driver Fatigue Causing 18-Wheeler Accidents

Preventing Asleep at the Wheel Truck Accidents

Every driver knows how dangerous it is to drive while tired. When you are tired, your level of awareness decreases, as does your reaction time. For big truck drivers, fatigue can lead to a life-threatening accident. Trucking regulations prevent 18-wheeler drivers from getting behind the wheel while tired. Every commercial operator on the road should know and understand these regulations.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) found that driving tired is similar to driving with a blood-alcohol level of .10. The legal limit is .08. Even with these statistics, thousands of commercial motor vehicle accidents happen due to fatigue every year— fatigue is one of the leading causes of truck driver deaths.

The Hours of Service Regulations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) are a set of safety rules that dictate the behaviors of trucking companies. Companies and drivers must follow these rules. They include:

  • Guidelines for vehicle maintenance
  • Mandatory driver training
  • Driving window limits
  • Work week hour limits

Under Part 395 of the FMCSR, or the “Hours of Service Regulations,” drivers cannot drive more than 11 consecutive hours within a 14-hour window. The purpose of this section is to prevent driver fatigue by limiting how long drivers can work in one day.

The terms of the driving window limit are as follows:

  • Drivers must spend at least three hours of their 14-hour driving period on break (not driving)
  • Drivers cannot spend more than 11 consecutive hours behind the wheel
  • After 14 hours, drivers must take a ten-hour break

Unfortunately, the regulation does not require that drivers sleep or rest during their ten-hour break. So, a driver can still stay awake for 24 hours and get back on the road lawfully.

The 70-Hour On-Duty Limit

The FMCSR limits a driver's workweek to 70 hours on duty. The definition of "on duty" includes time spent:

  • Driving
  • Waiting at the dispatch yard
  • Loading and unloading their tractor-trailer
  • Washing, servicing, or inspecting their truck
  • Completing relevant paperwork
  • In or near their truck while it is parked or broken down

Once drivers get 70 hours of on-duty time, they must spend the next 34 hours off duty.

Tracking Time in Logbooks

How do drivers and companies keep track of their time to ensure federal law compliance? Drivers have to log every 15-minute period that they spend on or off duty in electronic logbooks. If they fail to log their time, they could face serious consequences.

The trucking company must enforce and audit the driver's logs. This method is the only way that drivers and employers know if they are complying with federal regulations. Additionally, officers will want to see a copy of a driver's logs if they pull the driver over. If the log is not up to date, the driver will have to stop driving, and the company could face fines.

Using Logbooks as Evidence After Truck Collisions

When a wreck happens, driver logbooks and other records become crucial evidence. If there is proof that the driver was driving outside of regulated hour limits, the trucking company is at fault for the accident. Trucking companies may try to destroy, hide, or alter:

  • The truck’s GPS
  • The vehicle maintenance records
  • The driver’s logbooks
  • Blackbox data

If you are in an accident with a semi-truck driver, you need to act fast so that the trucking company doesn’t get the chance to take advantage of you. It is hard to prove the company at fault if there is no concrete evidence of wrongdoing. An experienced semi truck accident lawyer can help you take the steps you need to be compensated for a Texas truck accident.

Get a Lawyer for Big Truck Accidents

If you were the victim of an 18-wheeler accident in Texas, call The Stephens Law Firm Accident Lawyers at 281-623-1701. Joe Stephens, a certified personal injury attorney, has over 30 years of experience in injury and wrongful death cases. He has recovered millions of dollars in compensation for his clients.

Getting in an accident is a hard experience for anyone. In addition to personal injuries, you have to worry about damage to your vehicle, recovery time, loss of income, and other complications. The Stephens Law Firm will fight for you to get the justice you deserve while you recover from your injuries.

Types of Trucking Accidents We Handle in Houston and Across Texas:

  • Jackknife Accidents

  • Truck Rollovers

  • Tire Blowouts

  • Truck Driver DWI

  • Wide Turn Accidents

  • Blind Spot Accidents

  • Read End Accidents

  • Brake Failure

  • Underride Accidents

  • Lost Load Accidents

  • Headon Collisions

  • T-Bone Collisions

Call The Attorney Who Wins Truck Accident Cases

When your case requires the skill and knowledge of a seasoned semi truck accident lawyer in Texas, Joe Stephens is the expert you're looking to work with. Having tried over 100 cases to a successful verdict, he has a solid reputation for stalwart representation for his clients. Cases involving commercial truck wrecks can be very complex and present difficulty proving negligence of the truck driver, the trucking company, or both. Joe's experience with these cases allows him to get right to the heart of the matter, his clients rights and owed compensation.

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