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Truck Driver Hours of Service Regulations

Experienced Florida Truck Accident Injury Attorneys

Commercial drivers of tractor-trailers and semi-trucks hold a great deal of responsibility. If operated without the utmost care and attention to the road, large trucks can cause serious accidents with destructive consequences for other road occupants.

Federal law has a set of rules governing when and how long truck drivers can be behind the wheel, but these rules don’t always prevent drivers from staying on the road past what the rules allow in order to meet crushing delivery deadlines. When drivers remain on the road after severe fatigue sets in, they become a grave danger to other drivers. Florida truck accidents involving hours of service violations can cause harrowing injuries and leave victims with devastating financial consequences.

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Tractor-trailer crash claims can involve months of battling with insurance adjusters and carrier companies. Many frustrated accident victims simply abandon their claims or settle for a fraction of what they’re owed simply so that they can move on with their lives.

Don’t take pennies on the dollar for your truck accident injury claim. Contact the dedicated and effective Florida personal injury attorneys at Meldon Law for a free evaluation of your truck accident claim. Our decades of experience representing Florida accident victims mean that we’re the right choice after you’re hurt in a major truck accident.

What are the laws on how long commercial truck drivers can be on the road?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the national agency tasked with setting rules and regulations governing interstate commercial drivers. The FMCSA has established hours of service regulations that mandate the amount of rest between driving shifts that all drivers must receive as well as the maximum number of hours that drivers can spend behind the wheel before they must take rest or sleep breaks.

The FMCSA states that no commercial cargo driver may spend more than 11 hours driving, nor more than 14 hours on duty, in a 24-hour period. Drivers must take a break of at least 30 consecutive minutes off duty after eight consecutive hours of driving. The break between on-duty shifts must be a minimum of 10 hours long. The only reason that drivers can extend the 11-hour driving limit or 14-hour on-duty period is when the driver encounters adverse driving conditions.

Pressure from carrier companies forces many drivers to keep driving long after they should stop

Commercial drivers often encounter strong pressure from their employers to deliver their cargo quickly, regardless of conditions on the road that require slower driving. This pressure can be overwhelming to drivers, causing them to forego rest periods or sleep in order to meet deadlines that would otherwise be impossible. This results in truck drivers experiencing intense fatigue, which makes the already challenging task of operating a tractor-trailer nearly impossible to do safely.

Fatigued driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving, but is impossible to test

It is impossible to state conclusively whether a driver’s fatigue caused a crash since fatigue cannot be measured in the same way as alcohol consumption. However, officials estimate that up to 40% of large truck accidents are influenced at least in part by fatigue.

In one study, dashboard cameras filmed drivers over several months to study, among other things, how often drivers exhibited signs of being drowsy before a crash. The researchers found that roughly 12% of all drivers showed signs of fatigue in the three minutes before the accident, which is vastly more than the 1% of accidents that national safety bodies had officially estimated were caused by fatigued drivers. In fact, the AAA Foundation now estimates that about 21% of all fatal crashes in the US each year are caused by drowsy driving.

Researchers now believe that driving while heavily fatigued can be as dangerous as driving while drunk. Drowsy drivers, like intoxicated drivers, have slowed reaction times and suffer from poor decision-making. Both drowsy and drunk drivers are worse at estimating the speed of other cars and trucks and cannot correctly perceive depth.

Researchers estimate that, after being awake for 18 hours, drivers are equivalently impaired to someone driving with a BAC of .05%. This is an amount slightly beneath the .08 legal limit at which point a driver could receive a DUI. Drivers who had been awake for 20 hours were equivalently dangerous on the road to someone who had a BAC of .08. Imagining a driver of a passenger vehicle driving drowsy is scary enough, but imagining it happening to someone behind the wheel of an 80,000-pound 18-wheeler is chilling.

Attorneys with the knowledge and experience to take on global transportation companies responsible for drowsy driving truck accidents

After you’ve been hurt in an accident with a tractor-trailer or big rig in Florida, get help seeking the compensation you deserve by contacting the tenacious and experienced Florida truck accident attorneys at Meldon Law for a free consultation on your case.

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