Hours of Service Violations Can Impact Your Safety
Driver fatigue is one of the biggest contributors to commercial truck accidents. In July 2013, new rules outlined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) went into effect. These revisions aim to reduce fatigue-related truck accidents and ensure that drivers get the rest they need to drive safely. However, truck accidents continue to be caused by inattentive or distracted truck drivers who are in violation of these revised Hours of Service (HOS) regulations. Our attorneys serving Central Florida and Polk County, including Lakeland, Bartow, Winter Haven, and Haines City, are experienced truck accident experts who know how to identify when drivers have operated their commercial vehicles in excess of the hours mandated by law. If you or a loved one have fallen victim to an accident with a commercial truck, we can advise you of your right to recover full compensation. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation today.
Understanding Hours of Service
HOS are a set of rules within the FMCSA Regulations. The purpose of these regulations is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries by drivers and responsible truck companies who push beyond safe and legal practices. In short, the rules place limits on how long a driver can operate a vehicle and be on duty before they must take a break. “On duty” includes time when a driver is conducting any work for a motor carrier outside of driving, such as loading or unloading their trailers.
There are two main shortcomings to HOS regulations. The first is that the rules are complex and mutable. Varying HOS regulations apply to different types of vehicles, and the regulations change periodically due to various parties petitioning for and against them.
The second problem is that regulation relies on self-reporting by commercial truck drivers. Paper logbooks are still used to keep track of when drivers are on-duty, off-duty, and actually driving. The newer method uses an electronic on-board recorder to keep track of driving time, but the driver still reports additional on- and off-duty time with a paper log. These methods lend themselves to falsification by drivers and trucking companies for the purpose of monetary gain.
Fortunately, our experienced trucking accident attorneys can overcome HOS shortcomings. We understand the main rules and finer points of these safety regulations, including the exceptions and which regulations apply to each situation. We can also evaluate logbooks and other records to determine whether HOS rules have been violated.
How Our Attorneys Determine Violations
Driver fatigue resulting from HOS violations is considered a negligent activity. If you are a victim of a commercial trucking accident, we will employ various methods to investigate whether the driver violated HOS rules. Sometimes violations are apparent in the logbook, and other times logbooks must be examined to determine whether they have been altered. Some methods of investigation include:
- Comparing driver logs to dispatch logs, trip receipts, and bills of lading (required to document freight shipments)
- Comparing the original and carbon copies of each logbook page
- Comparing the number of miles stated in the logbook to the amount paid for miles driven
- Examining fuel receipts, toll tickets, and scale tickets
If our careful analysis of the driver’s log reveals evidence of HOS violations, it will help prove negligence and strengthen your case. Unfortunately, much of this documentation can get lost or misplaced between the event of an accident and when an attorney is contacted. If you have been involved in a trucking accident, get in touch with us as soon as possible so that we have the best chance of accessing these records.
Schedule a Free Consultation
Trust your representation to experts in the area of trucking law. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today.