One of the leading causes of truck accidents in the United States is truck driver fatigue. Truckers are often forced to work long hours and drive to their destinations overnight. Without the proper resting breaks, this can be a recipe for disaster. Since fatigue was noted as such a large problem in the trucking industry, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) instituted Hours of Service Regulations or HOS rules. Although these HOS rules have been in place for some time, they were recently amended by President Obama. These changes increased the number of required resting breaks as well as the length of those resting breaks.
Truck drivers are required to input their resting breaks into log books that are frequently checked and monitored by their employers and also by law enforcement. When a truck is stopped at a truck scale or a routine traffic stop, law enforcement may want to see their log book to check their adherence to HOS regulations. Problems that have arisen in some situations include drivers fraudulently marking their log books so it appears as if they are in adherence to HOS but in reality are not. Truckers operate on the basis of getting their cargo to its destination in a timely manner. To do so, they may risk safety by foregoing resting breaks.
Driving while extremely fatigued can result in some of the same driving tendencies as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is extremely dangerous, considering the massive size of most commercial vehicles. A fully-loaded commercial truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and a typical passenger vehicle is only about one-twentieth of that size. A collision between these two types of vehicles can prove extremely severe and even deadly. All interstate drivers, intrastate commercial drivers and drivers of commercial vehicles for personal uses must adhere to HOS regulations.
Two examples of HOS regulations include the 14-hour duty limits and the 11-hour driving limits. The former regulation involves a daily driving limit of 14 consecutive hours only after being off duty for 10 or more consecutive hours. The 11-hour driving limit says that the driver can only drive the truck for up to 11 total hours during the 14-hour duty limit. These regulations can be found in § 395.3 of the code. Resting regulations will depend on the size and type of the vehicle. While many trucking companies use log books as a form of monitoring HOS adherence, some companies have actually started using electronic on-board recorders. The information collected from these devices can show whether or not a truck driver was complying with all necessary resting and operating rules.
Truck driver fatigue is extremely dangerous and causes numerous accidents each year. If you were injured in a Santa Clarita truck accident then we encourage you to speak with an attorney from The Law Offices of Gerald L. Marcus. Our Santa Clarita personal injury lawyers can assist you in filing a claim or lawsuit for compensation. The damage resulting from these accidents can be severe and can leave you with medical bills, mounting repair costs and lost wages, not to mention the emotional trauma that you may very well be dealing with. Take the first step toward maximum financial compensation today and contact a Santa Clarita truck accident attorney at our firm today.