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Hours of Service Laws Aim to Prevent Trucking Accidents

With long shifts and hours of endless driving, staying awake at the wheel isn’t an easy task. In fact, 31 percent of all trucking accidents are caused by fatigue, which is more than the percentage alcohol and drug related truck accidents combined.

The consequences of fatigued truck driving gained the attention of the general public on June 7, 2014, when comedian and entertainer Tracy Morgan and seven other passengers were hit by a Wal-Mart truck while riding in a limo-bus on the New Jersey Turnpike. The crash killed one passenger, James McNair, and left the survivors with severe injuries.

The truck driver, Kevin Roper, had apparently been behind the wheel of the truck for over 24 hours without any sleep, a clear violation of hours of service laws. This fatigue is ultimately what caused the collision, and Roper faces charges of vehicular homicide.

What are Hours of Service Laws?

The Hours of Service laws were put in place to protect drivers and other passengers on the road from fatigue-related accidents. These laws include:

60/7 or 70/8 Rules. This allows truckers the freedom to choose between the two rule sets, both of which set limitations on the amount of driving that can be completed in consecutive days. A driver cannot exceed 60 consecutive hours in a seven day period or 70 consecutive hours in an eight day period. Once they have accumulated those hours, they must take a 34-hour rest break.

30 Minute Break Rule. This rule makes it mandatory for every driver to take at least one 30 minute break for every eight hours of driving. This break must be “off-duty” in which they can eat or take a nap, but cannot be driving.

The 14-Hour Window Rule. No matter how many 30-minute breaks have been taken, there is a strict 14-hour driving window for all truck drivers. For example, if a driver begins his route at 6:00 AM, he must stop driving at 8:00 PM. Breaks do not extend this 14 hour window.

The 11-Hour Limit Rule. Within the 14-hour window, drivers are only allowed to drive for 11 hours. So while they have a 14-hour work window, they cannot drive for 14 hours consecutively, even with breaks. Eleven hours is the maximum driving limit, before the driver must take 10 hours off to rest.

The 34-Hour Restart Rule. This rule requires that in order to “restart” their 60/7 or 70/8 work week, a driver must spend at least 34 hours off-duty. This means 34 hours of complete free time for the driver. This time does not include non-driving work, but must be given to the driver for rest and sleep.

Contact Moraitakis & Kushel, LLP, Truck Accident Lawyers

Trucking accidents caused by fatigue can have fatal and serious consequences. Violating the hours of service laws can be seriously dangerous and puts the truck driver and all other drivers on the road at risk.

If you or someone you love was injured in a trucking accident by a driver asleep at the wheel, hours of service violations may be the cause. In order to receive just compensation for your physical, emotional, and financial damages, contact the truck accident lawyers at Moraitakis & Kushel and begin your journey to justice today.

To contact our office, call us at 404-973-0341 and schedule your free consultation.