Hours of Service regulations aim to decrease drowsy Texas truckers

Many large truckers violate the FMCSA’s Hours of Service regulations, which were designed to limit the number of drowsy truck drivers on U.S. roadways.

As the U.S. economy continues to improve, the number of commercial tractor trailers found on the nation's highways is expected to increase. According to the American Trucking Association, there are not enough skilled and qualified truck drivers to meet the demand. Not only does this put pressure on the nation's trucking companies to move their freight quickly, but truck drivers are also forced to make stringent deadlines. In some cases, truckers are encouraged to stay behind the wheel for longer stretches of time, even though it violates federal trucking regulations. Drowsy truck drivers cause a significant number of tractor trailer accidents in Texas and across the nation, resulting in serious injuries and death for some people.

Case in point

A high-profile truck accident case that occurred on the New Jersey Turnpike last summer took the life of comedian Jimmy Mack and severely injured actor and comedian Tracy Morgan. According to Businessweek, the pair of comedians and several other people were passengers in a limousine that had slowed down in traffic. A tractor trailer operated by a drowsy driver smashed into the back of the limousine, causing the catastrophic accident. Upon further investigation, officers found that the truck driver responsible for causing the collision had been awake for 24 hours when the incident occurred. The trucking company he worked for had scheduled him to pick up his truck in Delaware, which required him to drive over 700 miles from his Georgia home. Once he had picked up his vehicle, he continued on his delivery route.

As a result of this devastating incident, Morgan and other accident victims filed a third-party lawsuit against the trucking company for reckless conduct and negligence in hiring and scheduling the truck driver. The trucker was charged with reckless driving, assault and vehicular homicide.

Hours of Service regulations

In 2012, 3,802 people were killed in large truck accidents nationwide, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Approximately 543 of those fatalities occurred in Texas. In an attempt to reduce the number of large truck accidents, serious injuries and deaths that occur in Texas and across the nation, the FMCSA revised the Hours of Service regulations, reducing the amount of time truckers could spend behind the wheel. The revised hours implemented the following regulations:

  • Truck drivers are restricted to work a maximum of 11 hours in a day and must take a 30 minute break within the first eight hours of each shift.
  • Truck drivers are limited to a 70-hour work week.
  • Truck drivers who work a full 70-hour week must rest for 34 consecutive hours.

Although these federal regulations were designed to save lives, some truckers violate them in order to make more money and meet tighter deadlines.

Contact an attorney

When negligent truck drivers violate the law, they put other motorists' lives in danger. People who become victims of large truck accidents in Texas may want to contact a personal injury attorney who can help them receive compensation for their case.

Keywords: truck, accident, injury