Hours of Service rules (49 CFR Part 395) apply to all commercial truck drivers and are designed to help prevent Florida truck accidents as well as truck accidents across the country. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that these rules are intended to lower the rate truck accidents, and it seems to be working – fatal truck accidents have been decreasing in number every year. Nevertheless, many thousands of people continue to die and many more thousands continue to suffer from serious injuries as a result of these accidents — many of which are preventable.
This year, Hours of Service rules were changed, but experts still say that much can be done to help improve these rules to ensure that truck accidents caused by fatigued drivers are simply less of a risk on our roads. For example, under current regulations, employers can still push truck drivers to drive a tractor trailer 18 wheeler for 14 consecutive hours — legally. Studies also show that truck drivers, on average, get less sleep than many other types of workers. Legislators and experts have both stated that more can be done to make such situations less common.
Hours of Service rules exist to ensure that drivers do not drive when unsafely tired. These rules require commercial truck drivers to log the number of hours that they drive, to take frequent rests — which must be documented — and to drive no more than a certain set number of hours within any 24-hour period before taking a rest.
Experts say that while these rules are a good start, part of the problem is that current rules shift most of the liability on to the driver. If drivers are pushed to break hours of service rules by unreasonable deadlines, for example, it is often drivers who are blamed if driver fatigue causes a Florida car accident or truck accident.
Companies often pay drivers by the mile. This means that drivers are pressured to drive longer in a smaller period of time in order to make better money. As well, it also means that drivers are not necessarily compensated for work-related tasks, such as waiting for trucks to be loaded, or sitting in traffic. Any delays a driver encounters mean a loss of revenue and drivers may be tempted to drive faster or to drive longer in order to make up the difference. It is for this reason that many experts believe that Hours of Service rules are not enough and that rules should be in place to protect drivers from such pressures.
If you have been in a Florida truck accident, contact the compassionate and experienced team at the Flaxman Law Group. We can arrange for a free initial consultation to discuss your case, your options, and your rights. You can visit our law offices in Homestead, Hollywood, or Miami, or we can come to your South Florida home, hospital room, or workplace to discuss your case.