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How does violating hours of service rules cause accidents?

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Hours of service rules for truck driversIn New York, companies that employ truck drivers must follow strict hours of service regulations in order to keep their employees and the general public safe. These regulations apply to all truck drivers, but vary based on whether the driver is carrying property for the company or transporting passengers. Below we discuss hours of service rules for drivers and how violating them causes accidents and affects victims’ rights to compensation.

Under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules, drivers can only be behind the wheel for a certain amount of time. The time varies based on whether drivers are carrying property or passengers.

Hours of Service Rules for Property-Carrying Drivers

Under FMCSA rules, property-carrying drivers:

  • Can drive a maximum of 11 hours of driving after they have taken a minimum of 10 consecutive hours off duty
  • Can only be on duty for 14 consecutive hours (i.e., If the drivers have been working for more than 11 hours after their rest period, but have not driven for the full duration of their time on duty, they may not operate their truck past their 14th consecutive hour of work.)
  • Must take rest breaks: Drivers must take a 30-minute break (minimum) every eight hours

If the driver has worked 60-70 hours on duty over the span of seven or eight consecutive days, the driver may not restart working until he has taken 34 consecutive hours off duty.

Hours of Service Rules for Passenger-Carrying Drivers

Passenger-carrying drivers:

  • Can drive for 10 hours only after they have taken eight consecutive hours off duty
  • Cannot drive after 15 consecutive hours (i.e., If the drivers have been working for more than 10 hours after their rest period, but have not operated their vehicle for the full duration of their time on duty, they may not continue driving past their 15th consecutive hour of work.)

Passenger-carrying drivers cannot drive after they have worked 60-70 consecutive hours of a seven or eight day work span. Once they have reached this limit, the drivers must take at least 34 hours of time off duty before operating their truck again.

Drivers using a sleeper berth must log at least eight hours of sleep in the sleeper berth. For more information on sleeper berth restrictions, please see § 393.67 of the FMCSA’s driving regulations.

Why Truck Driver Hours of Service Matter To You

Any driver who violates the federal hours of service regulations puts not only themselves, but also every other driver on the road in serious danger. Disregard for these rules can leave drivers sleep-deprived and lead to fatigue and impaired judgment.

If you are ever in an accident caused by an impaired truck driver, you have the right to sue the trucking company if the accident is the result of a violation of hours of service.

Because employers are liable for their employees’ actions, victims may be able to hold truck companies either vicariously liable for drivers’ misconduct or directly liable if the employers encouraged or forced their drivers to exceed hours of service.

Who can help me with my accident case?

Long Island based personal injury law firm Goldstein & Bashner has been helping victims of serious accidents in New York for more than 25 years now.

The Long Island truck accident attorneys at Goldstein & Bashner know all about hours of service rules; if you are injured in an accident caused by an impaired truck driver, they can help you get the help and compensation you deserve.

Contact us today for more information on how we can help you: 516-222-4000.

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