Truck Driver Fatigue
There are truck drivers in Texas and across the country who put everyone on the road at risk by driving while fatigued. A fatigued driver's reaction times are likely to be longer, and a failure to be alert while operating a large, heavy big rig can result in catastrophic consequences. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the hours that truck drivers may drive their vehicles to make sure they do not drive while fatigued. The hours of service rules limit the amount of time that truckers may operate their vehicles without rest breaks. If you are hurt in the Dallas region due to an accident arising out of driver fatigue, you can contact the truck accident lawyers at Feizy Law Office. We understand not only personal injury law, but also the regulations that govern truck drivers' hours of service.Pursuing Damages from Negligent Truck Drivers and Companies
The federal rules regarding hours of service were updated in 2011 and apply to anybody operating trucks in interstate commerce. They are slightly different depending on whether a commercial driver is driving passengers or property.
For those carrying property, the rules permit a truck driver to drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive off-duty hours. A truck driver cannot drive more than 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty, after 10 consecutive off-duty hours. Drivers must take a mandatory rest break of 30 minutes or more during the first eight hours on duty after an off-duty period. A truck driver cannot drive more than 60 or 70 hours during a period of seven or eight consecutive days, respectively. The seven- or eight-day period can only be restarted after going off duty for 34 or more hours.
Texas has different rules for its intrastate drivers. For example, drivers are allowed to drive for 12 hours after eight hours off duty. A motor carrier is not allowed to permit or require a driver to drive for more than 15 on-duty hours, following eight consecutive off-duty hours. A motor carrier cannot permit or require a driver to drive more than 70 total hours in seven days. However, in all cases, truck drivers are not supposed to drive if they feel fatigued, even if they have rested the amounts required by either state or federal law.
Why do truck drivers violate the hours of service rules? Many of them are paid by the mile. This means that truckers may get paid less when traffic is congested, when there is bad weather, or when there is a long waiting time. Truck drivers sometimes feel compelled to drive longer hours to make up the difference. Most truck drivers are unable to accurately assess how fatigued they are, and sometimes they may not notice when they are drifting between lanes. Although truck drivers are required to keep logbooks, these logs are sometimes falsified or not kept accurately.
In most Texas personal injury cases, either the judge or the jury determines whether a truck driver was negligent. They look at whether the following elements have been proved by the plaintiff: the truck driver's duty, a breach of duty, causation, and damages. If a truck driver violates the FMSCA rules regarding hours of service or falsifies the required logbook, this can be powerful evidence that the driver breached his or her duty.
In Texas, if a statute is enacted to prevent certain types of accidents, a truck driver violates that statute, and an accident is caused due to that violation, the doctrine of negligence per se may apply. Negligence per se allows an inference of negligence. For example, an intrastate truck driver who violates the 80-hour rule sometimes may be sued for negligence per se if his fatigue results in an accident. If you are hurt as a result of a truck driver's violation, negligence per se may be a useful option to consider.Legal Representation for Irving Victims of Motor Vehicle Collisions
Despite efforts to reduce the number of tired commercial drivers on the road, truck driver fatigue continues to remain a cause of serious motor vehicle accidents in Irving and other cities around Dallas. The attorneys at Feizy Law Office understand the trucking industry and the regulations that govern it. Call us at (214) 651-8686 or complete our online form. We represent car accident victims in Fort Worth, Arlington, Garland, and Plano, among other cities.