Commercial truck operators have a difficult job that requires long hours, tight schedules and varying road conditions that can range from tedious open stretches to treacherous traffic logjams in all kinds of weather. Drivers receive professional training that prepares them to operate extremely unwieldly and heavy vehicles safely in many types of situations.
Along with their training, there are many levels of oversight, both governmental and within the industry, to guarantee that truck drivers are driving at their peak abilities when they are on the road, including hours-of-service regulations. A lot is riding on this, as traffic accidents that occur involving trucks in South Carolina and elsewhere are some of the deadliest.
What are hours-of-service regulations?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration limits the amount of time that professional drivers are on duty to ensure that they are operating commercial motor vehicles at top performance levels. This means that they must not only comply with off-duty and breaktime requirements, but they also must log their hours and submit records of duty status, or those of the electronic hours-of-service files.
The hours-of-services regulations for property-carrying drivers are:
- 10 hours off-duty after 11 hours of driving
- 30-minutes breaks after eight cumulative hours of driving
- 60- to 70-hour limit on driving within seven to eight days
Operators may split their 10-hour off-duty hours if they are using the sleeper berth, and they may also extend their on-duty hours if there are adverse driving conditions.
What causes truck accidents?
Although large trucks make up only 4% of all vehicles on our nation’s roadways, 10% of all traffic fatalities involve a truck or semitrailer. In fact, most deaths in truck collisions occur to the occupants of smaller vehicles, not the truck driver. A fully loaded semi can weigh 20 to 30 times that of a passenger car, and when they are hauling hazmat or other flammable material, there is a high likelihood of catastrophic secondary injuries in a crash.
Truck driver errors are a factor in a third of these accidents, whether it is due to unsafe driving habits, drowsy driving, or driver distraction. The main driver errors that occur are:
- Drowsy or fatigued driving, included alcohol, marijuana or prescription-impaired driving
- Failure to yield right of way to another driver
- Careless or aggressive driving
The problem is, many truck operators routinely violate hours-of-service regulations and work longer than they should. This leads to drowsy, inattentive driving that can have deadly consequences if the trucker loses control of the vehicle, misjudges required braking time, or doesn’t pay attention to other drivers sharing the road.
If you or a loved one has been in a serious truck accident involving a negligent driver, it is possible to file a claim against the truck driver, as well as third-party claims that will hold the truck company, parts manufacturers, or cargo loaders accountable for their share of liability.
For Columbia residents, getting the help you need is the priority, and obtaining the maximum compensation for your injuries or loss is essential for beginning the road to recovery.