Federal Hours of Service Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration created a specific Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) that addresses safety issues for truck drivers on the roadways. One of the most critical sections of these regulations is the Hours of Service of Drivers. Truck drivers oftentimes face exhausting and tedious hours of sitting and driving on the road. These hours of service regulations determine how long a truck driver may be on the road.
The intent of these hours of service regulations is to allow truck drivers the time to sleep or rest and prevent fatigue, which can be a major cause of trucking accidents
It is important to note that these are guidelines required of all truck drivers. If an investigation determines that a truck driver failed to follow these guidelines, there may be serious consequences. The hours of service regulations for truck drivers as required under the CFR are as follows:
- Truck drivers must have a break of 34+ hours before beginning to drive for any consecutive period of time.
- Truck drivers must only drive a maximum of 11 hours, after 10 consecutive hours of off-duty rest
- Truck drivers must only drive a maximum of 60 hours within 7 consecutive days or must drive a maximum of 70 hours within 8 consecutive days.
Nighttime Truck Driving
While the Hours of Service Regulations do not directly address what time of day truck drivers are allowed to be on the road, they do govern how long a truck driver may be on the road for a specific period of time. Unfortunately, due to these regulations, oftentimes, truck drivers are forced to actually drive at night in order to ensure their shipments and cargo reach their destinations in a timely manner. However, even after getting the recommended and required sleep under federal guidelines, many truck drivers may still be drowsy or fatigued while driving at night.
Driving at night has been shown to increase stress levels due to poor visibility, interfere with normal healthy sleeping patterns and cause changes in a body’s circadian rhythm, and lead to lowered visual ability on the roadways. Specifically, when headlights are beamed at a person’s field of vision, their area of vision is automatically narrowed, leading to a possible safety hazard or accident. Additionally, with a lowered field of vision, many truck drivers find it difficult to gauge the speed of other vehicles on the roadways.
The increased glare at night is a challenge for any driver, especially truck drivers
Dim streets and artificial road lighting can lead to vision challenges for all drivers on the roadways as well. Finally, simple fatigue due to the fact that a truck driver is driving at night, even after getting appropriate rest, can lead to serious accidents, causing injuries and death.
With large commercial trucks needing much more stopping distance to bring their large vehicles to a complete stop, driving while fatigued or driving with impaired visibility can limit a truck driver’s reflexes and ability to stop in time to prevent a severe accident. If you were involved in a nighttime truck accident, contact Schultz & Myers, LLC at 314-444-4444. Our nighttime truck accident lawyers in St. Louis can help you build a strong case proving that the failure to follow hours of service regulations contributed to your injuries and damages.
Proving Truck Driver Fatigue
It is not impossible to prove that a truck driver was fatigued and therefore negligently operated the large commercial truck leading to a catastrophic accident. In fact, every truck driver is required to keep and maintain an accurate and up-to-date logbook of the hours that they drove, along with the hours that they rested. These numbers should match the “black box” of the truck, which should have a record of the date regarding the truck, including the length of time it was driven, GPS locations, and the speed of the truck.
Several pieces of evidence will be critical to building a strong trucking case following your accident
Our nighttime truck accident lawyers in St. Louis will be able to issue an immediate spoliation letter to every party that may be held liable in the accident. This includes the truck driver, the trucking company that employed the truck driver, the motor carrier that officially and legally owned the truck, and even the truck manufacturer. The issuance of this spoliation letter prevents any person or entity from destroying vital evidence needed to prove that the truck driver was fatigued or drowsy while driving, causing a trucking accident. These logs will help determine if the truck driver followed the hours of service regulations, and whether or not fatigue played a factor in the nighttime truck accident.
Work With a Nighttime Truck Accident Lawyer in St. Louis
If you were involved in a nighttime trucking accident, the truck driver may have failed to follow the federally required hours of service regulations. Nighttime truck driving often leads to impaired vision, fatigue, and negligent decisions by truck drivers.
If you suffered injuries in a nighttime trucking accident, contact the St. Louis Trucking Accident Lawyers Schultz & Myers, LLC at 314-444-4444 to help ensure your legal rights are protected under the law.