Common Causes of 18 Wheeler Truck Accidents: Driving Over Hours Of Service

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that driving with too little sleep causes about 100,000 accidents each year, resulting in over 1,500 deaths and 40,000 injuries.

Driving while fatigued is known to lead to falling asleep behind the wheel, decreased reaction time, distraction, overreaction, failure to observe obstacles ahead, running lights or stop signs, and many more dangerous behaviors.

Famous Fatal Truck Accident Caused by Driving Over Hours

Recently, a tractor trailer accident claimed the life of comedian James McNair and seriously injured actor/comedian Tracy Morgan.  The fatal truck accident occurred when a tired trucker failed to react to slowed traffic then slammed into the limousine carrying Morgan and several others.  Investigations later revealed that the truck driver responsible for the accident had not slept in over 24 hours, leading to criminal charges and several lawsuits.

The Hours of Service Regulations

In an effort to ensure truckers do not operate massive commercial vehicles without adequate sleep, the federal government developed the Hours of Service Regulations.  The regulations govern when and for how long a truck driver can operate a commercial truck.

The laws apply to most commercial vehicles that operate in interstate commerce. Some states set additional regulations aimed to achieve the same purpose.  When the hours of service regulations are not following, the result is often a serious accident caused by the negligent truck driver.

Current hours of service rules place limits on how long a driver can operate a truck and be on duty.  The rules are as follows:

  • The 14 hour duty limit: A driver can be on duty for no more than 14 hours after being off duty for 10 or more consecutive hours.  Once a drive reaches 14 hours of duty, he or she must observe a 10 hour rest period.
  • The 11 hour driving limit: During the maximum 14 hours of duty, the truck driver cannot drive a truck for more than 11 hours.  Further, a driver cannot drive if more than eight hours have passed since they were last off duty or slept at least 30 minutes.
  • The 70 hour work week: Truckers can put in a maximum 70 hours of driving within a week, to resume if they rest for 34 consecutive hours.

Truckers Often Exceed These Hours of Service Maximums

The faster a trucker can complete a delivery, the soon he or she can begin their next.  Sadly, economic and workplace pressures often lead to truck drivers exceeding the hours of service regulations.  It is not always easy to detect whether a driver has exceeded these requirements.

All truck drivers must record a daily log that will include their driving and rest time.  Your truck accident attorney will evaluate the entries within the log to uncover whether the driver exceeded hours of service rules.  Additional evidence such as lading slips or gas receipts can shed light on the hours worked by the trucker.

Zinda Law Group:  Award Winning Representation with Locations Across Texas 

If you have been injured in a truck accident in Texas, it is imperative that you retain the assistance of an experienced attorney who will fight for your full recovery.  It can be difficult to uncover whether a trucker has exceeded the hours of service requirements, but a skilled attorney will seek the truth.

The Texas Truck Accident Attorneys at Zinda Law Group have the knowledge and resources to obtain your maximum recovery.  We understand the serious consequences of any truck accident and will zealously seek compensation for all your damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

We offer a free consultation to new clients and have office locations in Austin and across Texas.  Call Zinda Law Group toll free at 800-863-5312 to start us fighting for your full recovery.