Georgia Truck Accident Attorneys Discuss the Dangers of Exceeding Hours of Service Regulations
The fatal truck accident last year which claimed the life of comedian James McNair and seriously injured actor/comedian Tracy Morgan propelled the issue of fatigued truckers into the foreground of public concern. The accident occurred when a drowsy trucker failed to stop in time for slowed traffic, slamming into the vehicle carrying McNair, Morgan and several others. Investigations revealed that the Wal-Mart trucker responsible for the accident had not slept for over 24 hours. This fatal accident led to criminal charges and several civil claims, according to ABC News.
Saferoads.org compiles safety statistics concerning fatigued truckers, and reveals that more than 750 people die each year due to fatigued commercial truck drivers and another 20,000 are injured. Sleep-deprived driving can lead to losing consciousness behind the wheel, distraction, decreased reaction time, overreaction, running lights and stop signs, and failure to observe obstacles, along with other dangerous behaviors.
Hours of Service Regulations
In an effort to ensure that commercial truck drivers who command trucks weighing up to 80,000 pounds do not drive without adequate sleep, the federal government has developed the Hours of Service Regulations. These regulations put a maximum number on how long a truck driver can operate a commercial truck. The laws apply to most large commercial vehicles that drive on interstate highways and conduct interstate commerce. Some states set their own additional requirements to ensure truck safety. Although many truck drivers travel the roadways safely in accordance with the law, when truck drivers fail to follow the hours of service requirements and accidents result, the truck driver and trucking company can often be held accountable.
Current hours of service requirements place time limits on how long a trucker can stay on duty.
The rules include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The 14 hour duty limit: Truck drivers can only remain on duty for up to 14 hours after being off duty for 10 or more consecutive hours. Once a driver has reached their 14 hours of duty, he or she must take a 10 hour rest period.
- The 11 hour driving limits: During their maximum 14 hours of duty, a truck driver cannot drive for more than 11 hours. The driver further cannot drive if (1) more than eight hours have passed since they last slept for at least 30 minutes or (2) were off duty.
- The 70 hour work week: Truck drivers can work a maximum of 70 hours of driving during any given week before they must rest for 34 consecutive hours.
Due to industry pressures and economic incentives, some truckers will occasionally exceed these hours of service requirements, posing a serious danger to others on the road. If you have been involved in a truck accident, your attorney should investigate the driver's compliance with hours of service requirements.
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Tractor trailer accidents can destroy the lives of those involved, inflicting serious injuries or even death. If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, a personal injury attorney can inform you of your legal rights and the steps necessary to protect those rights.
The Atlanta Truck Accident Attorneys at Montlick and Associates represent those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and in the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.
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