The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) section 395 govern the hours of service that a truck driver may drive or be in service. This is something to which the government, trucking companies, and truck drivers pay close attention. The goal for trucking companies is to move their products as quickly as possible from one place to the next. Therefore these companies often set time frames for the semi-truck drivers to complete their routes. However, just like airline pilots, truck drivers must meet certain federal and state requirements for time off and sleep to make sure they do not cause accidents. At Bachus & Schanker, LLC in Denver, our team of Truck Accident lawyers understands the complex regulations that govern hours of service. If you are involved in a collision with a commercial vehicle, we can investigate to see if violation of these safety standards was a factor and obtain compensation for your injuries.
Driver Fatigue and Truck Accidents
Driver fatigue accounts for between 20 and 40 percent of all Truck Accidents. Driver fatigue and drowsiness can cause drivers to run off the road and swerve out of their lane. Because of concerns about driver fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has developed strict laws governing the hours of service a truck driver may be on duty.
The FMCSRs require truck drivers to set aside 10 hours out of every 24 hours to rest, and the total time a driver can be on duty is 14 hours. Truck drivers must stop driving after being on-duty for 60 hours in any seven-consecutive-day period or 70 hours in any eight-consecutive-day period. To minimize the risk of Truck Accidents, this cycle may be restarted only after the driver takes at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty.
The average trucker drives more than 125,000 miles each year. Last year, trucking revenues totaled $610 billion. A truck driver's income is often tied to how many miles the trucker is able to cover in the shortest amount of time. In fact, most truck drivers are not paid by the hour. Instead they are paid by the mile. This means, the more miles traveled, the more pay earned. Since most over-the-road or commercial truck drivers get paid by the mile, the truckers will drive longer distances over longer hours in order to get paid more money.
Medical studies show that sleep deprivation affects a person's ability to drive and operate equipment. Additionally, it impacts a person's decision-making capabilities and reaction time. Long hours of operation often create on-going sleep deprivation in truck drivers. This sleep deprivation increases the risk of Truck Accidents that result in catastrophic injuries and death. Despite this increased risk, Congress continues to pass laws in favor of the big corporations and trucking companies, allowing longer hours of service for the trucking industry.
Truck drivers also put pressure on themselves to drive longer hours in order to avoid traffic jams, get home faster, or to make up lost time. All of these contribute to sleep deprivation and driver fatigue. Pursuant to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), drivers and their employers are required to maintain drivers' logs that record the drivers' hours of service. These logs are monitored and audited on a regular basis by the Department of Transportation. Additionally, Truck Accident lawyers can obtain the information to help prepare your claim.