We all know fatigued driving can be a menace on our roads. Tired drivers drift into other lanes, don’t react quick enough to prevent crashes, and endanger innocent motorists. But when that fatigued driver is piloting an 80,000-pound big rig flying down the interstate at 70 miles per hour or more, that menace becomes just plain lethal.
The federal government recognizes fatigued driving as a major problem. Driver sleepiness can be a factor in any of the top causes of big rig crashes compiled by the federal government and discussed in the article in the related links box on this page.
To help keep us safe from fatigued truckers, the federal government has passed regulations limiting the amount of driving a trucker can do in a day or week. Unfortunately, the real teeth in these regulations often comes after the fact: when an 18-wheeler crash is caused by a fatigued driver, an experienced trucking lawyer may be able to prove the trucker and his employer broke the regulations, then use those violations to prove fault for the crash and possibly obtain punitive damages for the victim.
Here are the work limits on most truckers and trucking companies carrying goods across state lines. As with any law, there are certain exceptions, but most cases will be governed by these rules:
- Maximum Daily Driving. A trucker can drive a maximum of 11 hours in any 24-hour period. The 24-hour period starts when the trucker is required to be ready to work, not just behind the wheel. Rest breaks are required every eight hours and must last at least 30 minutes. A trucker is eligible to drive the 11 hours only if he was off-duty the prior 10 straight hours.
- Maximum Weekly Driving. If the employer does not operate commercial vehicles every day, the trucker can only be on duty a maximum of 60 hours in any seven straight days. If the trucking company operates commercial motor vehicles every day, a trucker is limited to 70 hours on duty for any eight straight days.
- Proof of Compliance. Federal regulations require every trucker to record his work status on either a written log or, if the big rig is equipped with one, using an onboard computer. Truckers are required to record specific information about their trip, including total miles driven per day and when their 24-hour period started.
Sadly, many truckers and trucking companies chase the dollar instead of protecting our safety on the roads. That leads to taking high risks to make deadlines, which can cause truckers to drive when they’re too tired or in violation of these regulations. Consequences for innocent victims can be devastating.
“Just Doing My Job” Is Not a Good Enough Excuse
Trucking cases are often the most complicated type of motor vehicle accident case. Proving a trucker and his trucking company broke these regulations can be tricky. Sometimes trucking companies caught violating these laws by a crash may attempt a cover-up by destroying or altering documents. If you’ve been hurt or suffered the loss of a loved one and suspect a fatigued trucker may be the cause, you owe it to yourself and your family to meet with an experienced trucking lawyer who knows how to obtain the evidence required to prove these violations.
At Holland and Usry, we know what to look for and, if needed, know how to find trucking industry experts who can help us make sense of complicated, jumbled documents to help make the best case for you. And if we suspect altered documents, we will pursue handwriting or other document experts to prove that part of your case.
If this article speaks to you, know that we are terribly sorry. Feel free to contact us in the easiest way possible for you to discuss how we can help build a case against the trucker who wreaked havoc on your life. Check out the other articles on our site that may answer other questions you have, and feel free to download our free report on South Carolina car crash cases that may give you a better idea how your case will work. Do call us at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841 for a free meeting if you need some direction or help.
Related Links:Common 18 Wheeler Crash Injuries