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Commercial Trucking Law & Truck Driver Fatigue Cases

As a heavily regulated area of the law, commercial truck drivers who carry property in their vehicles are expected to abide by certain regulations as set in 49 CFR Part 395 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The law explains the amount of time a truck driver is allowed to be behind the wheel or on the road. The law regarding maximum driving time for truck drivers is as follows:

  • A truck driver cannot drive more than 11 hours in total or past the 14th consecutive hour after 10 consecutive hours off-duty.
  • A truck driver may not drive after 60 hours on duty in a 7 day period, or 70 hours in an 8 day period.
  • Another 7 or 8 day shift may begin again after at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty.

The reason that commercial trucking law is so heavily regulated is due to the large volume of trucking accidents caused by truck driver fatigue. If you or someone you love has been involved in a trucking accident caused by a tired truck driver or a driver acting negligently, do not wait to call a Raleigh personal injury lawyer from the Whitley Law Firm.

The legal team has over 30 years of legal experience to assist you in filing a personal injury or car accident claim. Whether the truck driver who caused the accident was drunk or simply fell asleep at the wheel, you may be able to hold them accountable with help from a lawyer. Contact a Raleigh personal injury attorney at the firm today.

The Importance of Truck Driver Safety Regulations

Truck drivers, like all commercial vehicle drivers, are required to follow certain safety regulations that have been developed and implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Why, you ask? Well, according to recent statistics, approximately one out of every eight traffic fatalities that occur in the US is caused by a trucking accident. This means that out of the 500,000 truck accidents that take place in the country each year, 5,000 of them result in a fatality.

For this very reason, the FMCSA continues to create new safety regulations that could prevent a number of serious accidents each year—in addition to implementing more severe penalties for those that fail to adhere to such regulations.

These preventative measures are intended to combat unsafe driving practices that are caused by distractions, fatigue, alcohol and substance abuse, and more. To combat fatigued driving, the FMCSA’s Hours of Service (HOS) regulations place a cap on the amount of hours that a commercial driver can work consecutively—as well as weekly.

For example, a driver cannot work more than 11 hours after they have spent 10 consecutive hours off-duty. Similarly, they cannot drive after 60 hours on duty in 7 consecutive days or after 70 hours on duty in 8 consecutive days. To ensure that drivers are not pushing themselves past these limitations, their hours are regularly monitored through trip logs.

To combat intoxicated driving practices, the FMCSA conducts a Drug and Alcohol Strike Force program each year. This two-week long sweep is meant to find and remove all commercial drivers from duty who have engaged in questionable driving habits—which has actually been quite effective in the past. In 2010 alone, 109 commercial drivers were prohibited from returning to work because of drug and alcohol violations.

In addition to these regulations, a number of other precautionary measures are taken by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to ensure that commercial drivers and non-commercial drivers alike are kept safe while behind the wheel.

Unfortunately, not all truck operators adhere to these mandatory regulations while out on the road, however, which may be the cause of a large percentage of trucking accidents in the US If you have been involved in an accident at the hands of a negligent truck driver—whether they were distracted by a cell phone, drinking and driving or severely fatigued at the time of the collision—you may be entitled to monetary damages.

In order to ensure that you are fairly compensated for your injuries, it is highly advised that you enlist the help of an experienced Raleigh personal injury lawyer. Get started today by discussing your case with the legal team at Whitley Law Firm.