A tired trucker can cause a catastrophic tractor-trailer crash
Semi-trucks and other big rigs weigh thousands of pounds on their own, but when fully loaded, they can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. Make no mistake about it: 18-wheelers have a size and weight advantage over the average passenger vehicle. That's why truck accidents are some of the most devastating traffic accidents on Indiana's roadways.
To help decrease truck accidents, the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has a set of service regulations truckers have to abide by, especially regarding how many hours they can safely drive. But unfortunately, not all truckers and trucking companies follow these rules. As a result, other people are severely injured or killed in preventable truck wrecks.
Below, you can learn more about some of the top truck driver hours of service violations and how they contribute to truck accidents.
Trucker Hours of Service regulations
The FMCSA's Hours of Service regulations are split into two categories: one for drivers carrying property and the other for passenger-carrying drivers. These regulations cover driving limits, sleep schedules, and breaks. The following three regulations are the most common hours of service rules broken by truck drivers.
- 11-hour and 14-hour limits. Truckers carrying property can drive for 11 hours and be on duty for 14 hours during a shift, but they must have previously had a consecutive 10-hour break from being on duty. Any time the trucker spends at the vehicle's controls is considered part of the 11 hours of driving time. The hours are slightly lower for passenger-carrying truckers, with a maximum driving time of 10 hours after an 8-hour consecutive break.
- 70-hour, 8-day limits. Truck drivers are not allowed to work more than 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight consecutive days. In addition, the 70-hour, eight-day regulation states that a trucker must take at least 34 continuous hours off before reporting back to work.
- Mandatory breaks. Regulations for breaks only apply to property-carrying truckers. If a trucker has driven 8 total hours without a 30-minute interruption, they have to take a 30-minute break. This break can be any non-driving activity, such as sleeping.
Despite the FMCAS's strict rules, some truckers still disobey these regulations. Sometimes, the trucking company pressures the trucker to meet unrealistic delivery deadlines. Other times, a trucker who is paid by the mile wants to work as long as possible to make more money.
Sadly, when these rules are broken, serious truck accidents often occur.
How service violations cause truck accidents
Working long hours and a lack of rest can cause truck drivers to become fatigued and cause accidents. Some examples include:
- Trucker's inability to keep their eyes open and heads up
- Drowsiness that can lead to tailgating and driving in and out of lanes
- Slowed reaction times
- Inconsistent speeds
In other instances, truckers take drugs to stay awake so they can drive longer. But, of course, a trucker under the influence is no less dangerous than a fatigued trucker.
Get help from an Indiana truck accident attorney
Truckers who defy the FMCSA's service regulations are negligent drivers and deserve to be held accountable for their actions. If you or a loved one was hurt in a truck accident, contact an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Truck accident cases are complicated and can involve many different parties, such as the trucker, their employer, the trucking company, the cargo owner, and others.
For that reason, it is in your best interest to contact an Indiana truck accident lawyer from Boughter Sinak, LLC. With our legal team on your side, you can level the playing field and let us fight for the maximum compensation you deserve.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation. We proudly serve clients throughout Indiana. Our two offices are conveniently located in Fort Wayne and South Bend.