To combat truck driver fatigue, hours-of-service regulations have been put in place to limit the number of hours that truckers can drive.
Federal hours-of-service (HOS) regulations restrict the hours that commercial truck drivers can drive both per day and per week. The rules are designed to keep fatigued drivers off the road and reduce the number of large truck accidents. Research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that commercial truck drivers who were behind the wheel for more than eight hours had a twofold increase in crash risk. This is perhaps why fatigue of truck drivers is one of the most commonly cited contributing factors in serious and fatal crashes involving large commercial trucks.
As explained above, there are few things as dangerous as a truck driver who is exhausted. In fact, statistics estimate that up to 40% of large truck accidents involve some form of driver fatigue. Unfortunately, truck drivers are often paid per mile or given strict deadlines—leading many to driving past their comfort point and while clearly exhausted.
Consider the following statistics regarding the dangers of fatigued drivers:
These are staggering numbers that underline the severe problem of exhausted truck drivers. Still, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is pushing to increase the amount of time that truckers can spend behind the wheel. This is despite the fact that 80% of polled individuals stated they believe tired truck drivers pose a serious danger on the road.
One leading cause of truck accidents is tired drivers; in fact, NHTSA estimates state that truck driver fatigue may contribute to 40% of all truck accidents.Learn More
In December 2011, the Hours of Service of Drivers Final Rule was published and later went into effect on February 2012. The main changes and the new regulations set forth by the Final Rule include the following:
The regulations above are for property-carrying drivers. Passenger-carrying drivers are governed by a separate set of regulations that are often stricter; for example, passenger-carrying drivers are limited to a 10-hour daily driving limit.
Generally speaking, federal HOS regulations apply to truck drivers operating large trucks that:
A vehicle can be a commercial motor vehicle based on its actual weight or its weight rating—whichever is greater.
Commercial truck drivers are required to keep a log of the hours they drive and miles they cover each day and government inspectors may review a driver's log at any time. However, some drivers refer to log books as "comic books" because they are so easily falsified. If you have been injured in an accident caused by a driver who was fatigued, you have a legal right to seek compensation from the trucker and truck company. Our trucking accident lawyers can help.
We offer a free consultation to review your case and determine how we can help you.