We have all heard the frightening stories of sleep-deprived truckers forced to make deliveries within unreasonable time limits. However, did you know that there are laws and regulations that govern just how much rest a trucker is required to get before returning to the road? Not only are these in effect to protect you, but these are federal laws and they apply all over the country. This means that a qualified 18 wheeler accident attorney has the ability to sue the driver and the trucking company in federal court.
The Law As It Is Written
The Federal regulation, commonly referred to as the “hours of service” rule, limits the amount of time that any truck on American soil and driven by a single driver can be on the road continuously. These rules date back to 1939 and were established to increase the safety of all motorists by decreasing truck driver fatigue.
The original law has been altered as statistics of accidents grew along with increasing traffic and higher speed limits. The new federal rules state that an operator may drive for a maximum period of 11 hours continuously in the course of a 14-hour workday and must take a 30-minute break during the day. Afterward, they are mandated to take a 10-hour rest before they are allowed to operate the tractor-trailer again.
Recently, the maximum workweek was reduced to an even 70 hours. Once the limit has been reached by a driver, he or she can restart at zero after a mandatory resting period.
When The Law Is Not Followed
These are designed to protect everyone on the road. The reason the government is intent on policing the sleep habits of truckers is that driver fatigue is one of the largest causes of fatal tractor-trailer accidents in the country.
More than 30,000 people in the United States die annually in highway accidents that can be directly attributed to operator fatigue. At least one in seven of these deaths involve large trucks, and the operator has been deemed the responsible party. If you have been injured because a truck driver fell asleep while operating his or her vehicle, or because his or her mental faculties were impaired due to lack of sleep, consult an 18 wheeler accident attorney for advice on how to initiate a legal claim.
You can establish the negligence of the operator by obtaining the logbook during the discovery process prior to trial. Your 18 wheeler accident attorney will request the logbook because the driver is required to detail their duty time, rest hours, and status. Many times trucking companies have tight deadlines and ask their employees to forgo the rules to meet their customers’ demands.
Opposition By Trucking Companies
Tractor-trailer companies maintain that miles mean money and that business is dictated by the clock. They feel that Washington has no right to dictate sleep. Many times truckers have been asked to secretly forgo sleep and doctor logbooks to reflect otherwise.
Motorists should not live in fear of the possibility that the tractor-trailers they are sharing the road with are being driven by sleep-deprived operators. As long as the new rules are on the books, each 18 wheeler accident attorney will fight for the rights granted by the Federal government to every victim of over-extended truck drivers.