Commercial truck drivers operate on a strict schedule. They must get their cargo from point A to point B in a certain amount of time, which means that anything that can potentially slow them down is avoided. Unfortunately, even necessary breaks in the driving schedule can be ignored. Take resting breaks, for example. One of the leading causes of car crashes for drivers of commercial motor vehicles is truck driver fatigue. While a little exhaustion may not seem like something to bother about, enough fatigue can actually impair a driver just as much as alcohol or drug intoxication.
This is why the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) along with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has instituted an Hours of Service (HOS) regulation for all commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. This rule was recently changed and became effective on February 27, 2012. Only certain CMV drivers are required to comply by these regulations.
According to the FMCSA,
Those that fit any of the following descriptions must comply: Weighs 10,001 pounds or more, has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more, is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation, is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation, a vehicle that is involved in Interstate or intrastate commerce and is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards is also considered a CMV.
The changes made to the Hours of Service regulations increased the amount of time that a driver was required to rest and also increased the frequency of those resting breaks. Resting times differ depending on the type of driver and vehicle. There are also some rules that are completely new, rather than modified from a preceding rule. For example, there were formerly no provisions involving 34-hour restart limits. Now, there must be two periods between 1am and 5am home terminal time that may only be used once per week. Resting breaks and on-duty time are perhaps the most important regulations to note though. Listed below are the most up-to-date regulations:
Falling asleep at the wheel can cause catastrophic accidents. Since the driver is not awake to immediately correct their error, these accidents often prove more dangerous than accidents caused by distraction or bad weather. CMV drivers that carry property (rather than passengers) have an 11 hour driving limit after they have had ten consecutive hours off-duty. According to the Hours of Service rule, a driver may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days.
The rules are slightly different for drivers of passenger-carrying CMV drivers. For example, they have a ten hour driving limit after eight consecutive hours off duty. If you or a loved one recently was involved in an accident that was caused by a CMV driver who fell asleep at the wheel, please do not hesitate to contact a West Virginia trucking accident lawyer at Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC. Our firm cares about the client as an individual, rather than “business as usual” which can make all the difference when it comes to the outcome of a case. To learn more, contact us today!