Hours of service (HOS) regulations are used to enhance the safety of the trucking industry. They are limits on how long drivers can work without a rest (and overall) within a given time period. All drivers are obligated to follow these rules, although there are slight differences for those carrying property and those carrying passengers.
It’s important to know how these strict HOS regulations work because they can have an impact on a car accident case. They are worth considering if you’ve been involved in an accident that you believe was caused (totally or in part) by a commercial truck driver.
For example, drivers who are carrying property have an 11-hour driving limit. That’s the maximum number of hours that they can drive if they have been off for 10 hours in a row. For passenger-carrying drivers, they can only drive a maximum of 10 hours if they’ve been off for eight hours in a row.
Drivers also have limits about how long they can be “on duty,” which includes working time that is not necessarily spent behind the wheel. There’s a 14-hour limit for property-carrying drivers, while the limit for passenger-carrying drivers is set at 15 hours.
One stipulation that only applies to property drivers is that they have to take 30-minute breaks. This happens if they have driven for eight hours without any 30-minute breaks previously. The driver doesn’t have to do anything specific for those 30 minutes, so most will simply use it to eat a meal, or they may just spend time relaxing in their sleeper berth.
Why do these regulations matter?
These are not all of the regulations that truck drivers have to follow, but they illustrate how much importance the government puts on the amount of time a driver has been working. The reason for this is that fatigued drivers are more likely to cause accidents. A driver who has been on the road for an excessively long time may be feeling fatigued and burned out, and that’s a danger to everyone around them.
As a result, if you’ve been injured in an accident caused by a driver who violated these regulations, you’ll want to seek legal guidance in order to pursue compensation against that driver who will likely be held accountable for being fatigued on the job. Their employer may also potentially be liable for your harm.