The demands of driving a big-rig truck can often times lead a driver to stay behind the wheel for way longer than they should. Eventually, fatigue sets in, which of course leads to many devastating accidents.
Being fatigued behind the wheel can in fact be more dangerous than driving intoxicated in many cases. And driving long hours can be just tiring. Even though the driver is sitting, something about long-distance travel can drain a person.
Since truck drivers travel such long distances regularly, and driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of fatal accidents, federal rules establish the maximum number hours a trucker can spend behind the wheel. These rules were first developed in 1939 but have been revised many times since.
A driver falls under these “hour of service” rules if:
- Their rig weighs more than 10,000 pounds
- Their vehicle carries more than 16 passengers if they’re not receiving compensation and 9 passengers if they are receiving compensation
- Their truck is carrying hazardous materials that require a placard
Current rules limit truck drivers to a maximum of 11 hours behind the wheel in a 14-hour work day. Once a driver has reached his daily limit, he must pull off the road and rest for a minimum of 10 hours. In a given 7-day period, a truck can be on the road for 60 to 77 hours…in an 8-day period, a truck can be driven for 70 to 88 hours.
While there are strict rules in place governing how long a truck driver can be on the road, many truckers and companies disregard the rule.
Besides these limitations, truck drivers are also required to maintain a log where they record start time and stop time.
If you’ve been in an accident with a large truck and the driver was on the road beyond the allowable time, you may have grounds for a claim to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, etc. against the driver, the trucking company, or both. To determine if the “hours of service” rule was violated, you will need to obtain copies of the driver’s log as soon as possible
Since this is a federal rule, your case will have to be tried in a federal court, not state (Colorado).
Denver truck accident attorney R. Mack Babcock possesses extensive knowledge in proving fault and obtaining compensation for these types of accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a big-rig collision, contact R. Mack Babcock and associates today to discuss your individual case.