How Violating the Hours of Service Laws Leads to Truck Accidents

5,700 trucks were involved in fatal accidents in 2021. This was an 18% increase from the previous year. Truck accidents have been on the rise for a long time now. The common causes of truck accidents include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol
  • Bad weather
  • Speeding
  • Violation of hours of service rules

You might be aware of the rest of the causes on the list. But what is the hours of service rule, and how can it lead to truck accidents?

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Hours of Service Rules

Hours of service regulations are a set of rules issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The purpose of these regulations is to regulate the working hours of a truck driver. Following are the hours of service rules issued by FMCSA:

  • A truck driver should drive only 11 hours in a 14-hour shift. The 14-hour shift should allow time for the driver to have food and other rest stops
  • A driver must take a 30-minute break after driving continuously for 8 hours
  • The driver can start their 14-hour shift only after taking a break for 10 consecutive hours
  • A driver is allowed to drive only 60 hours a week
  • To begin a 7-day shift, the driver must have taken a break for at least 34 hours

All drivers must comply with these rules, regardless of the state they are operating in.

Why Drivers Violate the Hours of Service Rules

Drivers violate the hours of service rules for many reasons. Usually, it is the trucking company that forces the drivers to violate the hours of service rules. Following are some of the common reasons drivers violate the hours of service rules:

  • Trucking companies set unrealistic goals so that the drivers have to violate the hours of service rule to complete their task
  • Giving incentives based on the load the driver delivers. So the driver will try to deliver more load by driving long hours
  • Having policies that benefit those who violate the hours of service rules
  • Retaliating against the drivers who refuse to violate the hours of service rules

When a driver is cornered like this, they have no other option other than violating the hours of service rules.

How Violating the Hours of Service Rules Results in Accidents

Rules are there for a reason. Violating the rules will definitely lead to truck accidents.

Hours of service rules regulate the working hours of truck drivers. Long hours will make the drivers tired.

Sleep-deprived driving is as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. When the driver is tired, they won’t be able to react quickly to oncoming traffic.

A truck is hard to control, even when the driver is active. Trucks need more time to stop or move out of the way of oncoming traffic. This is because a truck weighs around 80,000 pounds.

When the driver fails to act promptly due to a slow reaction time, accidents happen.

The driver may experience a condition called microsleep. You will suddenly fall asleep for a short time. Inadequate sleep is the primary cause of this condition.

Falling asleep while driving, even if it is for a short duration, is very dangerous and can result in truck accidents.

In rare cases, drivers use illegal substances to keep themselves awake. What they don’t know is that hallucinations are a common side effect of most drugs.

Wrapping Up

All truck drivers must follow the hours of service rules to keep themselves and others on the road safe. Truck drivers should not violate the law, even if the trucking company is forcing them. Instead, they should inform the police or a lawyer about this.

Truck drivers are partially liable for any accidents they cause, even if it was the trucking company that forced them to violate the rules. Not violating the rules can help avoid lawsuits.


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