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How Truck Hours of Service Violations Can Cause an Accident

 Posted on March 12, 2021 in Car Accidents

Joliet truck accident attorneySince they transport goods and supplies such as food, truck drivers are considered essential workers and have been working throughout the past year despite COVID-19 restrictions and shutdowns. In many cases, truckers have been working hard to deliver critical PPE or medical supplies to hospitals overwhelmed by the number of coronavirus patients. With increased pressure to deliver products in a timely manner, delivery drivers and trucking companies in general may not be adhering to protocol in regards to their hours of service. Failure to follow rules for driving can lead to tired drivers who then cause truck accidents.     

FMCSA Safety Act

Commercial truck drivers in Illinois must have a special license to operate such large vehicles. Individuals who are 18 or older can obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) after successfully passing written and driving skills tests. In addition, drivers must already have a valid Illinois driver’s license and pay a fee for the CDL. 

The Federal Motor Carrier Administration Safety Act (FMCSA) established specific safety guidelines for truck drivers to ensure that they get adequate rest and do not drive for too many consecutive hours. Here are a few of the Hours of Service (HOS) guidelines for a CMV driver:

  • Can drive for a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.

  • May not drive past the 14th hour after coming on duty (after 10 consecutive hours off duty).

  • May not drive after 60-70 hours on duty in 7-8 consecutive days. A driver can restart a consecutive 7-8 day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.

If truck drivers or companies violate these rules, they can be issued costly fines by local and state law enforcement. Also, drivers may be restricted from driving until they acquire enough off-duty hours to be in compliance. The federal government can also issue fines of $1,000 to $11,000 per violation. After multiple violations, a trucking company’s safety rating can be downgraded. If a driver or trucking company intentionally violates HOS rules, they may face federal criminal penalties.

The Effects of Fatigued Driving 

There are many factors that can impact a motorist’s ability to operate any type of vehicle safely. Similar to alcohol or drugs, fatigue can negatively affect a person’s driving capabilities. Studies show that being awake for 17 hours in a row has the same effect on the ability to drive as a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.05 percent. Many truck drivers travel in the evening hours or overnight when it is dark outside. This combined with being overtired can be a recipe for disaster if they nod off behind the wheel. Closing their eyes for a few seconds can cause them to lose control of their rig and collide with oncoming traffic. In other situations, drivers can drift into an adjacent lane and strike a median, or swerve and veer off road into trees or buildings depending on the geographical area. Because of the massive size and weight of semi-trucks and tractor-trailers, the impact of a crash can lead to serious and even life-threatening injuries. 

Contact a Will County Personal Injury Attorney 

When truck drivers are fatigued, they can cause a catastrophic collision if they fall asleep at the wheel. Negligence may be assigned to the driver or the trucking company if standard hours of service were not followed. A skilled Joliet truck accident lawyer can help determine liability in your case and pursue the compensation you deserve. At McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC, we have obtained millions of dollars in compensation for our clients that they would not have received without our intervention. Schedule a free consultation by calling us today at 815-727-0100.







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