Do Federal Regulations Protect Commuters from Truck Driver Fatigue?

One of the duties of a long-distance truck driver’s job is the number of hours that they are required to spend on the road. Although the federal government has set strict rules to those numbers, the issue of truck driver fatigue is a serious one and responsible for thousands of truck accidents every year. A truck driver who is drowsy put in control of a massive tractor-trailer can be a deadly combination for anyone on the road with that driver. Because of their size and weight, truck accidents often result in catastrophic injuries and death for victims in other vehicles.

Under federal regulations, a truck driver is not allowed to work more than 70 hours during any seven to eight-day period. A driver is then required to take a 34-hour break before they can get behind the wheel and on the road again.




During the period they are working, a truck driver may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. The driver may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period. When it comes to rest breaks, a driver may drive only if eight hours or less have passed since the end of driver’s last off-duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30 minutes.

Despite these stringent rules, there are truck drivers who disobey the federal regulations and drive more than is allowed. This is often caused by the pressure the driver feels from the trucking company to meet almost impossible delivery schedules. When this happens, drivers become exhausted, putting themselves and everyone on the road around them at risk.

Trucking companies are required to keep records of the number of hours their drivers spend on the road. This means that drivers are required to keep logbooks as proof. Many companies now use electronic recorders that are installed in the vehicles. If the truck driver is involved in a crash, the victim can use these records in any injury lawsuit filed against the company to show that the driver had spent many hours driving when the accident occurred and prove that the driver was fatigued. A truck accident attorney can also use the truck driver’s overall driving record if there is a history of violations on the driver or the trucking company’s part.

If the trucking company intentionally violates any federal or state carrier regulations, they can be fined and/or criminally prosecuted. If a company pushes drivers to violated driving rules or they fail to oversee that their drivers are following the rules, they can also be held legally liable for the trucking accident and any injuries victims suffer. Damages for medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, emotional anguish, permanent disability, and loss of quality of life are just some of the losses that trucking companies can be held financially liable for.

Call a Virginia Truck Accident Attorney Today

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, contact a Virginia truck accident attorney to discuss what legal recourse you may have. Truck accident cases can be complex, and it is not uncommon for there to be multiple at-fault parties who are responsible for the payment of financial damages you may be entitled to for your injuries. The legal team at Shapiro & Appleton has successfully represented many injured victims and their families and we are happy to meet with you and offer legal guidance on what the best options may be for your circumstances.