The number of hours of service (HOS) violations by tractor trailer drivers dropped in 2016, according to a review of national Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) data. Combined data for eight different violation types showed that the total number of HOS violations dropped to 397,327, which is a 14% decline from 2015.
However, FMCSA data did show that the number of violations for falsified reports of driver record of duty status (false logs), increased in 2016, climbing 9.6% to 36,800. The number of violations issued to truck drivers for having no record of duty status electronically or on paper rose 5%.
FMCSA data was reviewed that included only violations issued by inspectors, so it is possible that the actual rate of compliance was lower. However, experts state that the trends seen in violations data show a good trend.
The data showed that the total number of HOS violations jumped in 2014, which was the year after new work rules for truckers were introduced. But the numbers declined in the following two years. The number of violations given for driving over the 11 hour daily limit and the 14 hour total time limit on on duty time declined significantly in 2016.
Federal regulators will take major steps towards more aggressive enforcement of driver work rules in 2018 with the electronic logging mandate being introduced. The mandate will take effect on Dec. 18, 2017, and will outlaw the use of paper logs by the vast majority of tractor trailer drivers. This will make it more difficult for truck drivers to fake their HOS records.
It is a positive sign that the number of hour of service violations are dropping significantly. Tractor trailer crashes produce devastating destruction and often serious injury and death. In 2015, 3852 people died in truck crashes. Most of these people were in passenger vehicles, which are much smaller and lighter than tractor trailers.
Many tractor trailer crashes are due to driver fatigue and/or driver inattention. The purpose of the new HOS rules is to prevent truckers from driving when they are exhausted. An exhausted trucker is a dangerous trucker.
Our truck accident personal injury attorneys handled a truck crash case in Virginia once where the truck driver fell asleep as he was driving. He tried to claim that he had passed out due to a sudden medical emergency, but our attorneys proved in the lawsuit that he did not suffer from any medical condition that would have caused him to pass out.
He simply fell asleep behind the wheel and smashed into our clients’ car at 45 MPH at a stop sign. That crash seriously injured two small children. The truck crash settlement was for $5.5 million, but at least one of the children has serious brain injuries that will require lifetime medical care.