Even with set hours of service rules, truck drivers spend long hours behind the wheel, often leading to serious crashes and subsequent truck accident claims. Studies have shown that extended periods of driving can lead to fatigue, and lack of sleep between driving sessions can cause chronic fatigue as well. Since fatigue can have effects similar to low-level alcohol intoxication, it is critical that truck drivers get adequate rest. Those who don’t not only put themselves at risk, but they put others at risk as well.
To help ensure that truck drivers get adequate rest, the federal government has enacted Hours of Service Regulations. These regulations place limits on the number of hours that truck drivers can spend behind the wheel. Compliance with the Hours of Service Regulations is mandatory; and, when truck drivers and trucking companies ignore them, truck accident victims can use this to seek just compensation.
The Hours of Service Regulations establish different requirements for “property-carrying” and “passenger-carrying” drivers. The “property-carrying” rules that apply to commercial truck drivers are as follows:
While these are the general rules, there are some exceptions. For example, drivers can extend both the 11-hour and 14-hour driving limits by up to two hours if they encounter “adverse driving conditions.” Additionally, truck drivers may be exempt from the hours of service rules if they qualify as “short-haul” drivers, which means that they operate within a 150-mile radius of their normal pick-up or drop-off location.
Although the Hours of Service Regulations can seem complicated if you aren’t familiar with them, truck drivers and trucking companies are well aware of what the law requires. Unfortunately, many truck drivers and trucking companies still choose to ignore the rules. They put their profits before other people’s safety—and they often do so with devastating consequences.
When truck drivers and trucking companies ignore the Hours of Service Rules, they can be held liable for the consequences of their mistakes. Fatigue is a leading cause of commercial truck accidents; and, in many cases, truck drivers are fatigued because they have spent too many hours behind the wheel.
Violating the Hours of Service Regulations is a form of negligence, and truck drivers and trucking companies can be held liable for negligence under Illinois law. There are several ways to prove that a truck driver was fatigued due to an hours-of-service violation, including (but not limited to):
If you or a loved one was involved in a truck accident and you believe that a violation of the Hours of Service Violations may be to blame, we strongly encourage you to contact us for more information.
Contact Coplan + Crane today online or at (312) 982-0588 for a FREE case evaluation with an experienced truck accident lawyer. We serve clients throughout Illinois, including Chicago, Oak Park, Rockford, and other areas.