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A quick look at the Hours of Service Rules, and why they matter to truck accident victims

Truck accidents can occur for a variety of reasons, and many accidents are preventable. One common cause of preventable truck accidents is driver fatigue. Lack of proper rest can be a problem for any motorist, of course, but truck drivers are particularly prone to fatigue because of long hours on the road and industry pressure to maximize productivity.

Federal regulators, in order to address the problem of truck driver fatigue, have implemented a set of regulations known as the Hours of Service Rules. These rules apply to all commercial motor vehicles meeting certain criteria. The rules vary slightly depending on whether the vehicle carries property or passengers. 

A summary of the Hours of Service Rules can be found here, but the following is a quick summary:

  • No driving for more than 11 hours per day
  • Required rest break of 10 consecutive hours between daily shifts
  • No driving at all beyond the 14th consecutive hour on duty
  • Required rest break of at least 30 minutes after 8 hours on duty, with certain exceptions
  • No driving after 60/70 hours on duty over 7/8 consecutive days
  • Required rest break of at least 34 consecutive hours of duty before restarting the work week

Truck drivers and their employers are responsible for ensuring compliance with the Hours of Service rules, and for keeping accurate records of their compliance. Failure to do so can result in penalties, and can potentially be used against truckers and their employers in civil litigation.

The Hours of Service rules, like other state and federal truck safety regulations, can be an important area of investigation for plaintiffs in truck accident injury cases. Truck drivers who fail to abide by their legal obligations can and should be held responsible for causing accidents, and regulatory violations can serve as a basis for establishing liability. Truck accident victims, regardless of the circumstances that brought about their injuries, should always work with an experienced personal injury attorney to build the strongest case possible.  

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