As of July 1, 2013, commercial truck drivers have new Hours of Service (HOS) regulations they must comply with while operating a commercial motor vehicle. The stated purpose of the rule is to limit the ability of drivers to work the maximum number of hours currently allowed, or close to the maximum, on a continuing basis to reduce the possibility of driver fatigue. Long daily and weekly hours are associated with an increased risk of crashes.

In order to limit the driver’s fatigue, drivers are not allowed to drive more than 11 hours following a 10-hour break. The driver also cannot be on duty more than 14 hours following that same 10-hour break even if all that time isn’t driving. Those and other new rules are implemented to keep drivers fresh and alert while driving.

Fatigue for truck drivers is a very serious problem. In the Driver Fatigue and Alertness Study, it was found that fatigue leads to increased lapses of attention; slower information-processing and decision-making; longer reaction time to critical events; more variable and less effective control responses; decreased motivation to sustain performance; increased subjective feelings of drowsiness; decreased watchfulness, and decreased alertness to danger (Wylie, et al., 1997).

There is little dispute that these problems have the potential to become deadly when someone is behind the wheel of a tractor trailer truck. Thus, it was no surprise that researchers found that driving while drowsy increased an individual’s crash risk by four to six times (Klauer, et al., 2006).

Our firm has handled a number of cases where driver fatigue contributed to the cause of the accident. Unfortunately, many trucking companies do not have the procedural safeguards in place to reduce the likelihood of driver fatigue and prevent violations of the Federal on-duty hour regulations. A recent case revealed that a trucking company had in excess of 100 fatigue-related Federal regulation violations. It was only a matter of time before this corporate culture of law-breaking resulted in someone getting seriously injured or killed.

Our firm will continue to push for safer roadways by holding trucking companies accountable for violating laws designed to keep fatigued drivers off the roadway. If you have any further questions regarding this issue, please contact Chris Glover at chris.glover@beasleyallen.com.



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