Truck drivers keep commerce flowing in the U.S. by transporting goods between manufacturers and retail businesses. With that job, however, comes tremendous responsibility to share the road safely with other drivers. The large size of tractor-trailers, and the high speeds they often travel, are a recipe for disaster when a collision occurs. To help prevent truck accidents, the federal government regulated how many hours a trucker can be behind the wheel.
When a truck driver violates these hours of service regulations, he puts everyone on the road in danger. Fatigue is just as dangerous as driving while impaired, since it slows down reaction times, reduces good judgment, and causes many wrecks. While federal regulators can impose harsh fines on drivers and companies that violate hours of service laws, they do little to compensate people injured by such recklessness.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a truck driver, call Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, at (212) 986-7353 to speak to a top NYC truck accident attorney. We’ll hold the driver accountable for what happened.
There are strict limits in place on how many hours a truck driver can work to help prevent fatigued driving. These HOS limits are:
- After 10 consecutive hours off duty, a truck driver transporting property can drive for a maximum of 11 hours. A truck driver transporting passengers can drive for a maximum of 10 hours, after 8 consecutive hours off duty.
- The 11 hours of maximum driving must fall within a maximum of 14 total hours on duty, following 10 hours off duty. Truck drivers with passengers can only be on duty for a maximum of 15 hours following 8 hours off duty.
- After 8 consecutive hours of driving, a commercial truck driver must take at least a 30-minute break before continuing to drive.
- Truck drivers transporting either property or passengers must stop driving after accumulating a total of 60 hours on duty over the course of 7 days, or after 70 hours on duty over the course of 8 days.
- The 7/8-day period resets only after a trucker has taken at least 34 consecutive hours off duty.
Federal regulators have cracked down time and again on drivers who violate these hours of service regulations and the companies that hire them. If a fatal crash occurs, the truck driver can even be arrested and charged with a criminal offense. Otherwise, punishments are typically financial and come in the form of harsh fines for each individual HOS violation.
Of course, these fines do not go to the people who were injured in the collision. When a truck driver takes risks, such as driving beyond the legal time limit, that negligence can make them liable for injuries they cause.
To recover compensation for your injuries after a collision with a fatigued truck driver, you can file a civil lawsuit. While you might initially assume the driver is solely to blame, trucking companies often have an unofficial policy of pushing their drivers beyond the HOS limits and rewarding them for getting the job done faster.
These kinds of things can be difficult to prove, however, which is why you need an experienced New York personal injury attorney to represent you. Call us today at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, at (212) 986-7353 to discuss what happened and learn about your options for compensation.