The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) allows truck drivers to drive a maximum of 11 hours per day. 

Other hours of service regulations cargo truck drivers must follow include:

  • A truck driver may only drive that maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours of being off-duty.
  • A truck driver can only remain on-duty for 14 hours.
  • A truck driver cannot drive after 60/70 hours on-duty in seven/eight consecutive days and can only restart his next seven/eight-day work schedule after being off-duty for 34 or more consecutive hours.
  • Truck drivers can only get behind the wheel if has been less than eight hours since they were off-duty or spent at least 30 minutes in the truck’s sleeper berth.   

The FMCSA enacted these regulations to promote driver safety. It found in a 2007 study that 13 percent of large truck crashes involved driver fatigue.

Why Do Truck Drivers Stay Behind the Wheel Longer than Is Safe?

There are many reasons why drivers may attempt to drive beyond these limitations. Two of the most common include:

  • The driver may want to complete his shipment ahead of schedule. In some cases, drivers receive payment per shipment, so they get more money if they can squeeze in another delivery.
  • The driver feels pressured by his employer to stretch himself a bit further. In some cases, employers force their drivers to skip breaks to stay on schedule.

Why Is It So Dangerous for a Truck Driver to Operate a Rig While Fatigued?

A large truck is ungainly and can weigh 80,000 pounds. Safely operating a truck requires the utmost caution and alertness. If a driver is fatigued, he may not be able to perform a necessary evasive maneuver or safely navigate the road. This could lead to a deadly accident.

What Happens If a Driver Does Not Follow Regulations?

If a driver fails to follow regulations and causes an accident, he can be liable for any injuries or losses.

However, per Georgia’s vicarious liability laws, a trucking company can be liable for any actions its drivers take behind the wheel. If a truck driver chooses to drive longer than allowed, the truck driver will be liable for any accidents.

The trucking company can also be directly liable if it pressured its drivers to operate their rigs past allowable hours of service.

This is often good news for you because trucking companies have larger insurance policies than individual drivers. It also means you will be dealing with a large trucking company and an experienced insurance company. The team at S. Burke Law will not back down when faced with a trucking company and its insurer. In fact, Sheryl Burke used to work as an insurance adjuster so she knows how they operate.

How Can I Prove a Driver Was Fatigued When He Caused My Accident?

Most drivers will not readily admit they were fatigued or fell asleep behind the wheel. To prove a driver was drowsy, we can use:

  • The driver’s logbooks: All truck drivers must fill out logbooks detailing how long they spent behind the wheel, when they took breaks, and when they slept and for how long. Truck drivers can either keep a manual log in a notebook or they can use the truck’s electronic data recorder.
  • Surveillance video: Many trucking companies install cameras in the cabs of their trucks. If the truck involved in your accident was outfitted with a camera, we can watch the surveillance video and determine whether the driver was showing any signs of fatigue (e.g., yawning, rubbing his eyes, nodding off, or even falling asleep at the wheel).
  • Eyewitness testimony: If an eyewitness saw the driver swerving, yawning, or driving recklessly directly before the accident, we can use them to back up our allegation of fatigue.
  • Photos of the scene: We will examine photos of the scene for evidence of evasive maneuvers, such as skid marks. A lack of skid marks can show that the driver was asleep and did not attempt to brake or avoid the accident.

Unfortunately, most of this evidence is in the hands of the trucking company. This is why we will send a spoliation letter immediately to preserve and obtain the evidence we need.

Call Now for a Free Consultation

If you suffered injuries in a truck accident in the Atlanta area, discuss your case with the team at S. Burke Law. If we believe the driver was fatigued, we will gather the evidence necessary to prove it.  

Call us today at 404-842-7838 for a free consultation.