Are there limits on the amount of time that a truck driver can spend on the road?
By GNGF on January 20th, 2023 in
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, FMSCAs, have many regulations that are designed to protect the motoring public, including limits on the hours of service, driver qualifications, bans on the use of hand-held mobile devices, driving in bad weather, and many, many more. Generally, truck drivers cannot work more than 60 hours on duty over seven consecutive days. Drivers may be on duty for up to 14 hours following 10 hours off duty, but they are limited to 11 hours of driving time. Drivers must take a mandatory 30-minute break by their eighth hour of coming on duty.
Despite updated regulations on how long a truck driver may be behind the wheel, think about driving eleven hours straight and how exhausted you would be if you did so. Truck driver fatigue is a leading cause of truck accidents, with the FMCSA determining that at least 13 percent of commercial truck drivers were suffering from fatigue at the time of their crashes. Despite the dangers of fatigued driving, potentially three out of every four commercial truck drivers have reported at least one driving error as a result of being drowsy or overly fatigued.
One surprising bit of research indicates that being awake for 18 hours is comparable to having a BAC of 0.08 percent—the level at which you are considered legally intoxicated. Being extremely fatigued has an effect on your ability to concentrate as well as your reaction time. The National Safety Council has determined that a driver’s reaction times, awareness of hazards, and ability to sustain attention all worsen the drowsier the driver becomes—to the point that a drowsy or overly fatigued driver is three times more likely to be involved in a car accident or to cause a car accident.
Most of us may not be able to accurately gauge just how fatigued we are. Overly fatigued drivers can experience “micro-sleep,” or short, involuntary periods of inattention that last 4-5 seconds. At highway speeds, a vehicle can travel the length of a football field in that time. Even truck drivers that strictly adhere to the allowed hours of service will almost certainly be fatigued and drowsy at some point during those eleven allowed hours. When you think of driving 60 hours in one week, or 70 hours in eight days, you can see why many truck drivers are overly fatigued.
If I’m partially at fault for the truck accident, can I still recover compensation?
Proportionate responsibility laws determine the effect of your own potential partial fault in causing an accident. Your recovery will be reduced by your percentage of responsibility for causing an accident. In Texas, a person may not recover anything if he or she is more than 50% at fault for causing an accident. New Mexico has pure comparative fault rules, which means that the trucking company may still be required to pay for their fair share of your injuries even if you are more than 50% at fault for causing the accident.
Fault will be determined after an investigation, whether by the police, the insurance company or companies, and your truck accident attorney. Witnesses will be questioned, your account and the truck driver’s account of the accident will be taken into consideration, and any video cameras in the area will be looked at. In some instances, the “black box” from the truck and from your own vehicle could be examined to determine the speed of both vehicles at the time of the accident, and whether either driver had a hard brake prior to the accident. As noted, in Texas, you can still file a claim against the truck driver, trucking company, or any other liable party so long as you are not determined to be more than 50 percent responsible for the accident.
As an example, if the truck driver changed lanes without looking and hit you, but you were driving over the speed limit, it might be determined that you were 20 percent responsible for the accident. If your damages were $100,000, they would be reduced by that 20 percent, and you would receive $80,000. The state of New Mexico allows you to file for damages even if you are more than 50 percent responsible, however, in the same vein, your award for damages would be decreased.
How Can the Harmonson Law Firm Help?
At Harmonson Law Firm, we like to say we are small but mighty! This means that while you will receive every benefit you would get from a large law firm, you will also get highly personalized attention from our small firm. We understand that you may be feeling anxious about your health and your financial future, and we will work hard to alleviate that anxiety by thoroughly answering any questions you may have and explaining the process in a comprehensive manner.
Attorneys Clark Harmonson and Hadley Huchton have dedicated their legal careers to honing their personal injury and medical malpractice skills in order to help people get through these tough times. At Harmonson Law Firm, we have an unparalleled level of commitment to each and every client. We will treat you with absolute dignity and respect because you are not simply another client. Contact Harmonson Law Firm today for help with your truck accident injuries. Please note that nothing herein is meant as legal advice specifically related to your case.