In an effort to reduce truck accidents caused by drowsy or fatigued drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) put limitations in place on how many hours a driver can operate a large truck over a specified period of time. The hours-of-service-rules are designed to keep the truck driver and others who share the road safe.
What are the hours-of-service rules?
There are three maximum duty limits that are enforced by FMCSA. The first rule is the 14-hour duty limit, which means a driver can be on-duty for no more than 14 consecutive hours after being off duty for at least 10 hours.
The second rule is the 11-hour duty limit, which limits driving time to that many hours. So while a driver can be on-duty for 14 hours, only 11 of those hours can be spent driving the truck. Again, this rule is based on being off-duty for at least 10 hours prior.
The third rule is the 60/70 hour duty limit based on a seven or eight day period, beginning at a time determined by the trucking company for the start of a 24-hour period. The driver cannot drive beyond 60 hours over a seven-day period, or 70 hours over an eight-day period.
How can a violation of hours-of-service rules be proven?
There are a couple of ways that a violation of hours-of-service rules could be proven. One is through the driver’s logbook, which indicates driving start and stop times, along with times the sleeper berth has been used and off-duty time.
Another way is through an automatic onboard truck recording device on some trucks, which in some cases, may provide a more accurate record of this information. Truck recording devices must have the ability to print or display duty status changes and other information requested by law enforcement. This would likely happen after a truck accident. If the information shows the hours-of-service rules were violated, it could help establish fault for the crash.
Jason Schultz is an attorney in the Atlanta area who can help injured drivers pursue a claim and collect evidence to establish liability in a serious truck accident.