Truck drivers are often required to travel great distances and drive for long hours. Despite strict regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regarding drive time, many truck drivers continue to travel while fatigued. Unfortunately, both physical and mental exhaustion can lead to delayed reaction times, mistakes, and even falling asleep at the wheel. Studies have revealed a strong link between fatigued truck drivers and serious accidents.
The South Carolina attorneys at Anastopoulo Law Firm can assist you if you were injured or your loved one was killed in a truck accident. We understand what to look for when investigating cases; our legal team can determine if the truck driver in question was fatigued or shouldn’t have been driving at the time of the accident.
Contact us online or by phone at (800) 313-2546 today to schedule a free and confidential consultation with our legal team.
Who Is Responsible when Fatigued Truck Drivers Cause Accidents?
While it may seem obvious that a fatigued truck driver is liable for any accident he or she causes, many truck accident claims are not this simple. In fact, while truck drivers are often at least partially at fault for accidents caused by fatigued driving, they are not always the only liable party. In some cases, trucking companies act negligently by overlooking hours-of-service violations; in rare instances, trucking companies have been shown to pressure drivers into violating these rules.
Hours-of-service (HOS) rules are set by the FMCSA and dictate how long a truck driver may operate his or her vehicle before taking a mandatory break or rest period. HOS rules also designate how long a driver must remain on break/in the sleeper berth of the vehicle.
Below is an overview of the FMCSA’s hours-of-service rules:
For property-carrying drivers (truck drivers transporting goods, deliveries,
and other property):
- Drivers may not drive for more than 11 hours after an off-duty period of 10 hours
- After at least 10 consecutive off-duty hours, drivers may not drive past the 14th consecutive on-duty hour (increased off-duty time does not extend the 14 hours rule)
- Drivers are prohibited from driving after 60/70 hours in a period of 7/8 consecutive days (the 7/8 consecutive days restart after an off-duty period of at least 34 consecutive hours)
- Drivers may not drive if more than 8 hours have passed since the end of their last off-duty period and/or period of at least 30 minutes in the sleeper berth (not applicable to “short-haul” exempt drivers)
- If a driver uses the sleeper berth, he or she must remain in the sleeper berth for at least 8 consecutive hours, along with at least 2 additional consecutive hours off duty, in the sleeper berth, or both
For passenger-carrying drivers (including buses, trains, etc.):
- Drivers are prohibited from driving for more than 10 hours after at least 8 consecutive hours spent off duty
- Passenger-carrying drivers may not operate their vehicles after being on duty for 15 hours following an 8-hour off-duty period
- In a period of 7/8 consecutive days, drivers cannot drive after 60/70 hours
- If a driver uses the sleeper berth, he or she must spend at least 8 hours in it; drivers may split the 8 hours into separate breaks, as long as neither period is less than 2 hours
These regulations are meant to prevent commercial drivers from operating their vehicles while fatigued. Drivers are required to keep detailed records of time spent driving, as well as time spent in the sleeper berth or off duty. If a driver feels that he or she must continue driving in order to meet a quota or unrealistic schedule set forth by his or her employer, however, he or she may forge these records.
Our Firm Focuses on Results
At Anastopoulo Law Firm we understand just how serious a truck accident is for both the victim and his or her family. The impact of such an incident is enormous. Because of this, we focus on fighting for the maximum recovery our clients are owed. Our lawyers in South Carolina have recovered millions of dollars for injured individuals and the surviving family members of those killed in devastating collisions. We are prepared to fully investigate your claim and leave no stone unturned in determining how the accident occurred and who is liable.
If you believe fatigued driving may have led to the truck accident that left you injured, contact Anastopoulo Law Firm at (800) 313-2546 for a free case evaluation today.