Commercial trucking is essential for out economy to operate. Whether it’s goods and supplies or deliveries, we cannot get by without large trucks and tractor-trailers. They are a regular presence on many highways, which is why it is so important that drivers be safe. Yet many truck drivers push themselves too hard and for too long each day, which can lead to deadly truck accidents.
Our Oklahoma City, OK auto accident lawyers would like to consider how driver fatigue can lead to collisions. They’ll then note how hours of service regulations help prevent accidents, and why violations of these guidelines need to be taken seriously.
The Dangers of Driver Fatigue
If you are tired while operating a vehicle, you put countless people at risks. Driving while sleepy or exhausted means that your decision-making skills are often impaired. You may not be driving with safety in mind. Your reflexes and reaction times are also slower if you are tired, which can mean less time to avoid hazards in the road, making collisions are more likely.
Given the hours that truck drivers spend on the road, laws have been made to help limit the risk of driver fatigue for those who operate commercial vehicles. These hours of service guidelines help prevent accidents and can save lives.
Current Hours of Service Regulations
These are three of the current federal hours of service regulations by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA):
- 14-Hour Driving Window - A truck driver can only operate their vehicle during a window of 14 consecutive hours.
- 11-Hour Driving Limit - During that 14-hour window, a truck driver can only drive for 11 hours total, with a mandatory off-duty break of 30 minutes for every 8 hours behind the wheel.
- 60/70 Hour Limit - A truck driver may not log more than 60 on-duty hours in 7 consecutive days, or 70 on-duty hours in 8 consecutive days.
What Is an Hours of Service Violation?
An hours of service violation refers to any type of action that goes against the guidelines established by the FMCSA. This could mean direct violations of hours of service regulations, or falsifying records to make it seem as if a truck driver is operating within the law.
Penalties for Hours of Service Violations
If a truck driver violates hours of service regulations, they can be subjected to fines, license suspension, and a lowering of their safety rating. This can affect the truck driver’s current financial situation as well as the driver’s future employment with a trucking company.
Trucking Companies Must Be Responsible
In addition to the legal penalties, trucking companies must be responsible for their drivers. Additional punishments within the company should be considered if a truck driver demonstrates unsafe behaviors on the road or behind the wheel. When companies act responsibly, they can help prevent collisions and save the lives of countless motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
Similarly, if a trucking company notices that a driver applying for a position has multiple hours of service violations and safety issues in the past, that company should avoid hiring the truck driver. When warning signs are present, it’s important that companies act accordingly.
Learn More About Truck Accident Cases
For more information about your legal rights and options following a truck accident, be sure to contact the attorneys of Tawwater Law Firm, PLLC. Our legal team is here it help you in your time of legal need.