Commercial truckers must follow federal Hours of Service (HOS) regulations to prevent truck accidents caused by driver fatigue. These rules govern how long drivers can remain on the road before taking mandatory rest breaks. Obeying HOS laws is essential for public safety. But when truck drivers or trucking companies choose to violate the rules, they can be held liable for any accidents they cause.
Determining whether hours of service regulations have been broken is crucial during any truck accident investigation. Below, the Maryland truck accident lawyers at Trollinger Law LLC outline the most frequently asked questions we receive about HOS violations. You can also call or contact us for a free consultation to learn more.
What Are Hours of Service Rules?
Hours of service rules govern truck drivers’ work schedules. They limit how long truckers can go without taking a break and how many hours they can work in a given day or week. All truck drivers and commercial motor carriers must comply with these rules.
For truckers whose routes encompass multiple states, HOS rules are set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). States, including Maryland, can set their own regulations for truckers who operate only within one state, but they’re not required to do so. If a state does not set its own regulations, federal regulations apply.
What are the Hours of Service Requirements?
FMCSA recently revised its hours of service rules. The current requirements are:
- Drivers may work for up to 14 consecutive hours after at least 10 straight hours off duty. This 14-hour window starts as soon as the driver begins any work-related activity, whether or not they’re driving.
- Once the 14-hour period begins, drivers can be behind the wheel for up to 11 hours.
- Drivers must take a break of at least 30 minutes if it’s been eight or more hours since they last took a half-hour break.
- Depending on their work schedules, drivers can work a maximum of 60 or 70 hours in any given seven- or eight-day period.
A variety of exceptions and other caveats apply in the HOS provisions. It’s best to speak with a truck accident attorney if you believe you have a case.
Do HOS Violations Cause Truck Accidents?
Hours of service violations may not directly cause truck accidents, but when a driver breaks these rules, they are much more likely to drive while fatigued. Being overtired dulls reflexes, impairs judgment, and increases the chances of falling asleep at the wheel.
How Do You Determine Whether an Hours of Service Violation Occurred?
You’ll likely need a truck accident lawyer’s help to identify whether a driver violated HOS rules. An experienced attorney can collect evidence that sheds light on a driver’s actions leading up to an accident, including:
- Records from the truck driver’s logbook
- Information from the truck’s electronic data recorder (black box)
- Maintenance records at stops along the truck driver’s routes
- Toll receipts indicating how long it took a driver to travel a certain distance
Can I Receive Compensation if a HOS Violation Causes a Crash?
Truck drivers and their employers can face stiff penalties for breaking hours of service rules. It’s negligent for a driver to violate HOS regulations. If their actions caused a truck accident and you were hurt, you could have a case against one or both of them.
Maryland law allows victims to seek compensation for:
- Accident-related medical bills
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
Determining whether or not a truck driver violated HOS requirements can be a key step in seeking fair compensation after a truck accident. Accomplishing that task is easier with help from a lawyer who can establish negligence and demand fair compensation for your injuries. Talk to a knowledgeable truck accident attorney from Trollinger Law LLC. Call or contact our office for a free initial consultation.