Hours of Service of Truck Driver Regulations and How it Can Help Win Your New Mexico Trucking Accident Case

- Mark Caruso

Truck Drivers Must Follow the Federal Regulations Governing Hours of Service to Help Prevent Drowsy or Fatigued Driving Accidents

Time is money for trucking businesses.  The faster they can deliver cargo, the faster they can get paid.  The more times they deliver cargo, the more times they get paid.  The less drivers delivering cargo, the less they have to pay in salary and cover health care insurance and motor vehicle insurance.

This is why many trucking companies and truck drivers take shortcuts in properly delivering the cargo.  Many truck drivers will drive sleep-deprived and on energy drinks or pills to stay awake.  The more they can work the more they get paid and stay in the good graces of their employer.

But this is just dangerous and can lead to New Mexico trucking accidents.  Large commercial trucks such as semis, tandem trailers tractor trailers, flatbeds, tankers, 18-wheelers, big rigs, and many other trucks can cause a significant amount of damage to anything they collide with.  This means occupants of motor vehicle truck by a tractor trailer can easily be serious injured or killed.  Given that large commercial trucks operate throughout the United States on the interstate highways, it was necessary for the federal government to come in and set guidelines and regulations that apply to all states.  And they did just that to protect all of us.

Federal Regulations by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Make Us Safer with Hours of Service Rules

One of the most important federal regulations promulgated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the hours of service of drivers requirements in Part 395 of Title 49 of the CFR.  These regulations restrict the number of hours that a truck driver may drive in a 24 hour period.  The goal is to help reduce fatigued driving which results in trucking accidents, including fatal ones.  These regulations also prohibit a trucking company from requiring a truck driver to violate these rules to meet the trucking company’s schedule and goals.

Some important provisions of the hours of service of driver federal regulations include the following:

  • A truck driver may not start a shift without first having 10 consecutive hours of off duty prior to the start;
  • During the shift a truck driver may driver only during a period of 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty and may not drive after the end of the 14 consecutive hour period.
  • To be eligible to start another shift, the truck driver must again have 10 consecutive hours of off duty prior to the start.
  • During the 14 hour shift, a truck driver may only drive a total of 11 hours during the 14 hour period.
  • A truck driver may not drive if more than 8 hours have passed since the end of the driver’ last off duty or sleeper-berth (sleeping compartment in cabin of truck) period of at least 30 minutes (rest break required); and
  • Several total hour requires per 7 day period depending on status of the company.

Truck drivers are required to keep a duty status logbook as to how many hours they have slept, rested, and been driving.  This is very important and is how law enforcement can check the logbook to see if the truck driver is company.

Even though the truck driver has control of the logbook and you may believe it is easier for the truck driver to lie about the hours of service, there are other methods officers can use to establish whether truck drivers are in compliance.

For instance, there is an electronic logbook system is in the truck’s computer which also keeps track which officers can sometimes access in the field to check.  Officers can also determine where the truck driver left and whether the traffic stop is to determine whether it is possible for the truck driver to have been at that location at the time they claim.

Using Hours of Service Violations in Your New Mexico Trucking Accident Lawsuit

A violation of a regulation is evidence of negligence.  Thus, if a truck driver or trucking company violates the hours of service regulations and causes a New Mexico trucking accident resulting in injuries, the violation can be used to demonstrate evidence of negligent conduct to help prove your case.  This is known as the negligence per se doctrine.

Your experienced New Mexico trucking accident attorney can use this regulation to help determine the cause of the trucking accident.  Fatigue and drowsiness is difficult to prove unless there is an admission that the truck driver fell asleep at the wheel or if there are logbook discrepancies.

The federal government set these regulations demonstrating what is reasonable to driver under.  Failing to comply just establishes what is not reasonable to drive as an alert and prudent driver.  These can prove your case and get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Hours of Service Violation Can Win Compensation for Your Injuries 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, call the experienced New Mexico truck accident attorneys at the Caruso Law Offices, P.C. today by dialing (505) 883-5000 You can also contact us on our website through the easy to use and convenient Contact box located by clicking here.