Are There Limits On Truck Driver Hours?
Truck accidents cause horrific injuries for drivers and passengers of other vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that over 70 percent of the injuries and deaths in large truck accidents were sustained by the occupants of other vehicles in 2014. During that year, 111,000 people were injured in 3,903 people were killed in truck accidents in the United States.
Unfortunately, truck companies often push their drivers to exceed the safe number of driving hours to increase their profits. If truck drivers don’t get enough sleep, they have an increased risk of causing a drowsy driving accident. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimated that 13 percent of the accidents each year are caused by driver fatigue. Approximately 25 percent of truck drivers admitted they had fallen asleep at the wheel within the past month.
It is not surprising driver fatigue is a problem in the trucking industry. Several years ago, the federal government took steps to ensure truck drivers take the time to get sufficient rest to reduce the risk of accidents from fatigued driving.
Federal Rules for Truck Drivers
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) addressed driver fatigue in 2011 with a new set of rules for the number of hours a truck driver can operate a vehicle without rest. The new “hours of service” rules were expected to reduce the number of crashes by 1,400 per year. The change in rules was also expected to reduce the number of injuries from large truck accidents by about 560 and reduce the number of fatalities by about 19.
The new hours of service rules become effective July 1, 2013. Under the FMCSA rules, truck drivers:
- Have a maximum work week of 70 hours;
- Must take a 30-minute break within the first eight hours of a shift; and,
- Must rest for 34 continuous hours, including two nights, before resuming work after reaching the maximum 70 hours in a work week.
The FMCSA kept other rules in place including the 11-hour maximum driving limit per day and the maximum 14-hour work day. Drivers and companies who exceed these limits face high fines. Companies can be fined $11,000 per offense and drivers face a fine of $2,750 per offense. Unfortunately, the high fines are not a sufficient deterrent for some drivers and companies.
Filing a Truck Accident Lawsuit in California
If you have been injured in a truck accident, please contact our office to discuss your case with a Fresno truck accident attorney. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, losses, and damages including medical bills and lost income.
Under California law, you have a limited time to file a truck accident lawsuit. If you don’t file your lawsuit before the deadline, you lose your right to recover compensation from the at-fault parties. Because truck accident claims are usually substantial, it is vital that you don’t wait to contact a Fresno truck accident attorney.
Call Torem & Associates at (888) 500-5000 or use the contact form on our website to request a free consultation with an attorney. Our no-obligation case evaluations allow you to get answers to your questions and learn about your options for receiving compensation for injuries sustained in a truck accident.