One of the biggest causes of truck accidents is overtired and overworked drivers. Most of us work eight hours a day and then go home. Some of us work overtime. But, for the most part, people work regular hours and then go about their business.
The truck driving industry isn’t like this. Truck drivers are forced to work long, hard hours. For some drivers, the temptation of overtime is just too great to ignore. The money they can make working these extra routes is too much to resist.
For years, there were no laws regulating how many hours truck drivers could work. After seeing so many accidents, however, the government decided to put some rules into place. These rules aren’t governed by the states. There is actually a federal law that controls how many hours a tractor-trailer driver can work without a break.
While these rules are pretty strict, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t broken. When companies are short-handed, they have their workers exceed the allowable hours. Some drivers also work part-time jobs and are driving way too many hours combined.
Truck accident lawyers in Virginia Beach know these laws. They work hard to prove that the defendant was negligent.
What are the Federal Rules for Truck Drivers?
Virginia Beach truck accident lawyers are familiar with the federal laws governing truck drivers. They’re supposed to be followed by both drivers and the companies they work for. However, there are times when minor violations can lead to huge accidents.
The agency that controls these rules is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. They publish the rules governing tractor-trailer drivers every year. For the most part, these rules remain unchanged. Both drivers and their employers are required to know these laws and abide by them.
The rules have to do with both driving time and logging your hours. If a driver fails to follow both of these rules, he can have his CDL suspended. If your truck accident lawyer learns a driver didn’t follow the rules, they’ll use it as evidence in court.
A violation of these rules constitutes negligence per se when it comes to your lawsuit. Your attorney will use this to your advantage if need be.
Laws Regarding Hours Worked
Truck drivers are limited to working in 14-hour shifts. The 14 hours isn’t based on a 24-hour cycle. It’s based on when the driver starts working. For example, if your shift starts at 8 am, your shift must end no later than 10 pm.
During this 14-hour period, you can only drive for up to 11 hours. You must have at least 3 hours of non-driving time included. The 11 hours also must include some breaks or lunches.
A driver must take at least one thirty (30) minute break during his 11 hours of driving. And this break has to be taken before the 8th hour. So, if you start at 8 am, you need to take a break no later than 3:30.
If there is inclement weather, the driver can extend the 11 hours to 13 hours. However, they must still stick to the 14 hours shift. They also must take breaks and lunches per regular rules.
There’s a Weekly Limit on Hours Too
Even if the tractor-trailer driver follows the 11 and 14-hour rules, there are weekly rules they must follow as well. This rule is called the 60/70-hour rule.
If you work for a company that is open 7 days a week, you can work up to 70 hours a week. If your company isn’t opened every day, the limit is 60 hours. This total must include your overtime hours as well.
When you think about it, most people work about 40 hours a week. The fact that drivers are allowed to work almost twice this much is alarming. Understanding how dangerous truck accidents can be, truck accident lawyers wish these numbers were lower. So do many truck accident victims.
Drivers Must Maintain Daily Logs
The other important rule for tractor-trailer drivers is the log rule. Drivers must log their hours all day and every day. They must maintain daily logs that show when they start, stop and when they take breaks.
These logs must be true and accurate. They must also be hand-written by the driver themselves. They can’t be maintained on a computer. These logs must be in the truck at all times.
The government can inspect these logs at any time. When a truck driver is stopped or checks in at a weigh-in station, their logs can be inspected. Any violations will result in citations, fines or a suspension of the driver’s CDL.
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, you need to contact a truck accident lawyer in Virginia Beach right away.