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Belleville Truck Driver Fatigue Accident Lawyer

When Truck Drivers Don’t Obey Hours of Service Regulations

Studies have shown that fatigue can seriously hinder a person’s driving performance – slowing reaction times, and negatively affecting coordination, attention span, and decision-making abilities. Driving while fatigued is dangerous for all drivers, but particularly for tractor-trailer operators, whose vehicles can legally weigh up to 80,000 pounds – 20 times the weight of the average car.

A fatigued tractor-trailer driver, barreling down the highway at 55 mph, is a deadly presence to everyone else on the road. Because of this, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established strict limits on how many hours a truck driver is allowed to drive in a certain period of time. Unfortunately, many trucking companies encourage their drivers to drive more hours than are legally allowed and falsify their logbooks, all in an attempt to increase profits.

If you’ve been involved in a tractor-trailer accident, and you believe its operator was driving while fatigued, you may have grounds for a lawsuit against the driver and trucking company. To find out more about your legal rights and options, call Hipskind & McAninch, LLC, for a free case evaluation at (618) 230-3069. We’ll take on the insurance companies while you focus on recovering.

How Many Hours are Truck Drivers Legally Allowed to Drive in a Day?

The first FMCSA rule that truck drivers need to adhere to is the “10 hours off” rule, which stipulates that a driver must have, at least, 10 consecutive hours off between shifts. So, if tractor-trailer operator C.W. McCall stops driving at 8 p.m. on Monday night, he can’t legally drive again until 6 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

14-HOUR DRIVING WINDOW, 11-HOUR DRIVING LIMIT

The next FMCSA rule that truck drivers must observe is that they can only drive for 11 hours in one day or shift, and, drive no more than eight consecutive hours in one stretch. In addition, a driver has only a 14-hour window in which to drive those 11 hours. So, if C.W. starts driving at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, he can drive straight through until 2 p.m. (8 hours), at which time he must take a break of at least 30 minutes. After his break (2:30 p.m.) he has until 8 p.m. to drive his last three hours. After 8 p.m. on Tuesday, C.W. cannot drive again until 6 a.m. on Wednesday, 10 hours later.

60/7 AND 70/8 DUTY LIMIT AND 34-HOUR RESTART

The 60/7 and 70/8 duty limit refers to how many hours a driver can be “on-duty” in a seven or eight consecutive day period. On-duty does not mean time actually driving, but refers to the time a driver is “on the clock.” On-duty could mean loading or unloading a trailer, inspecting the truck, mapping out a route, or actually driving. Under the 60/7 and 70/8 duty limit, a truck driver cannot be on-duty for more than 60 hours in seven consecutive days, or 70 hours in eight consecutive days. Once a driver has reached his maximum on-duty hours for a seven- or eight-day stretch, he then must take a 34 consecutive hours “off-duty” break. Off-duty means the driver is completely off the clock and not working for the company in any way. This 34-hour off-duty break is often referred to as a “34-hour restart,” because after this break, the driver can begin another seven or eight day work cycle. Suppose C.W. uses his full 14-hour window on duty on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (totaling 56 on-duty hours); then is on the clock for seven hours on Friday and seven hours on Saturday (totaling 70 hours). He would have to be off-duty for 34 consecutive hours before he could be back on the clock.

FMCSA made these rules in an effort to make America’s roads safer, and requires all drivers to keep an accurate logbook of the hours they spend driving. However, it is not unheard of for a truck driver to falsify entries in his logbook in order to drive more hours in a day. (And for companies to encourage this practice.) Fortunately, many tractor-trailers now have data recorders, similar to a black box on a passenger plane, which keep track of hours in operation, speed, and miles traveled. Unfortunately, these recorders are not yet required by law.

Hire an Experienced Tractor-Trailer Accident Attorney

If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in an accident with a tractor-trailer, you’re going to need a skilled Belleville truck accident attorney. The legal team at Hipskind & McAninch, LLC, is not afraid to take on trucking companies and their insurers. John Hipskind and Brady McAninch used to work on the other side of the table, defending the very insurance companies they now take on. They have the experience and knowledge to get you and your family the compensation you deserve. Call 618-641-9189 today for a free case evaluation.

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