New York Hours of Service Violations and Trucking Accidents
Most people understand that commercial trucks are responsible for following a complex set of rules implied by local and state traffic regulations as well as federal agencies responsible for regulating the trucking industry.
A large commercial truck can be up to 80,000 lbs. when fully loaded and given the devastating toll that these trucks can cause in the wake of an accident, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and other relevant government agencies have a strict set of guidelines that truckers and their employer companies must follow at all times in addition to regular rules about speed limits and the like.
One of these has to do with the hours of service that a truck driver can be behind the wheel for any length of time. Most people are aware that a commercial truck, if not operated properly and safely, is a critical danger to everyone on the road. If you have already been involved in a catastrophic trucking accident in New Jersey and have questions about your rights, scheduling a consultation with an experienced attorney should be your next step.Laws Related to Hours of Service
Strict laws govern how many consecutive hours that truck drivers can work. This is because truck drivers are especially susceptible to being tired behind the wheel or being distracted. The piece of machinery operated by a truck driver is a very large and dangerous one that can lead to catastrophic injuries and accidents.
If you notice that a truck driver has violated the hours of service, or suspect that he or she was under pressure from their employer company to push a load to completion even though it may have been dangerous to do so, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim. Driver fatigue, unfortunately, is one of the most common causes of trucking accidents not just in New Jersey but around the country.
A tired driver is always a dangerous driver but the stakes are higher with a heavy commercial truck or one loaded with hazardous materials. Sadly, many trucking companies try to evade the hours of service rules and innocent victims may end up suffering the consequences of these violations.
An experienced New Jersey trucking accident attorney will know how to investigate such an accident and discover the necessary information to support your claim of violations of federal hours of service regulations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the primary government agency responsible for regulating hours of service. Drivers cannot work for any longer than 11 consecutive hours and they can only drive 11 consecutive hours after they have spent 10 hours off duty. Furthermore, a driver can only operate the truck if it has been 8 hours or less since their last break and that break must have been a minimum of 30 minutes. Furthermore, a driver cannot exceed operating their vehicle after 60 or 70 hours on duty as a driver in 7 or 8 consecutive days. The clock will restart after the truck driver take 34 consecutive hours off. There are a number of different civil penalties that may apply if a trucking company is found to have violated these rules. These fines can be in the thousands of dollars. However, many companies still push their drivers to avoid these hours of service rules in order to get a load there sooner. It's easy to blame truck drivers when they are the ones who are tired and cause a critical accident but many of them are pushing through exhaustion to meet an unrealistic timeline set forth by their supervisors.
Serious consequences, however, may apply if you are on the road with an exhausted truck driver. If you have already been hurt in a critical trucking accident, you need to schedule a consultation with an experienced hours of service violation truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Someone needs to fight for you if you have sustained a catastrophic personal injury.