If you were in a crash with a heavy truck, you should determine whether or not the driver was adhering to the July 2013 Hours-of-Service rules. If the driver was in breach of the regulations, you may be entitled to a higher compensation award.
July 2013 Regulations
Just over one year ago, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) put new Hours-of-Service regulations into effect to ensure that drivers have the adequate rest they need to safely operate 80,000-pound commercial vehicles on the road with other motorists. The 2013 provisions are expected to have the most impact on long-range drivers who frequently travel at night, reducing the weekly driving time for some long-haul tractor-trailer operators.
The 2013 provisions are as follows:
- Limit the maximum average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours, a decrease from the previous maximum of 82 hours.
- Allow truck drivers who reach the maximum 70 hours of driving within a week to resume if they rest for 34 consecutive hours, including at least two nights with sleep during the 1-5 a.m period.
- Require truck drivers to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift.
To see a more detailed comparison of old and new Hours-of-Service rules, click here.
The regulations are backed up by hefty penalties for violations: up to $2,750 in civil fines for each time a driver breaks the rules and $11,000 for carriers that allow drivers to do so. Driving (or allowing a driver to drive) more than 3 hours beyond the driving-time limit may be considered an egregious violation and subject to the maximum civil penalties.
Impact: Fatigue Prevention
According to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Hours-of-Service rules are intended to “help create an environment where commercial truck drivers are rested, alert and focused on safety while on the job.” Driving fatigue is a leading cause of death and injury in large truck crashes. Even with hour regulations, fatigue is under-reported in crash accounts because drivers often don’t want to admit to being at-fault or sleepy. However, an analysis has shown that upward of 13% of commercial drivers involved in a crash were considered to have been fatigued at the time of that crash.
Anne Ferro of The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said, “The result [of the provision] is a fair and balanced approach that will result in an estimated $280 million in savings from fewer large truck crashes and $470 million in savings from improved driver health. Most importantly, it will save lives.” The federal government estimates the rules will save 19 lives a year and prevent 1,400 accidents and 560 injuries a year.
If you have been in an accident with a truck or other vehicle, use the Claims Calculator to estimate the value of your case.