Posted: February 20, 2018
At Shapiro & Sternlieb, LLC, our Newark truck accident attorneys understand how to determine the cause of your accident. And that's crucial – without knowing the cause of the accident, it's impossible to go about proving liability and getting you the compensation you deserve.
And one thing we have seen time and time again is that driver fatigue is one of the most common causes of truck accidents. A commercial truck is a massive vehicle, and it needs to be operated by someone at the peak of their mental faculties. Fatigue makes that impossible.
There are laws and regulations governing how long truck drivers can operate their vehicles. Violation of these laws is serious, and it puts innocent people on the road in danger.
The Facts and Figures
The federal government recognizes that these massive commercial trucks represent an essential part of the modern economy. They carry important goods a long distance, and in doing so assure that the economy operates smoothly.
And they cross state lines every day, which makes them a federal concern. When truck drivers are over-worked and fatigued, their reaction times are diminished, and their ability to safely operate their vehicles is compromised.
This is the reason the federal government has regulations governing how many consecutive hours drivers can work. The regulations go like this:
- Truck drivers have a 14-hour driving “window” under which to drive the hours described below
- There is an 11-hour driving limit, meaning drivers can drive for a maximum of 11 consecutive hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty
- Finally, drivers may not drive their trucks after 60 (or 70) hours on duty in seven (or eight) consecutive days. This 7/8-day period can be re-started after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off
As you can see, these aren't the simplest rules. Trucking companies are quite adept at pushing the limits of the HOS rules, and often they put pressure on drivers to unofficially break the rules in order to meet otherwise impossible deadlines.
There are consequences to these violations – the driver and the trucking company can face fines from state, local and federal entities, and the company's safety rating can be downgraded as a result. And in extreme cases, the feds can bring criminal charges against companies that knowingly violate these laws.
These penalties don't always dissuade companies and their drivers, many of whom are facing significant pressure from their bosses. This is where our truck accident lawyers come in. By investigating your accident, we can determine if the HOS regulations were violated and, if they were, use that fact in any resulting legal action.
Such violations can open the trucking company to greater liability, and rightly so. This liability provides a greater incentive for companies to follow the rules. Accountability is the only way big companies change their ways and do the right thing.
If you've been the victim of a truck accident in or around Newark, New Jersey, our lawyers stand ready to help. Please call Shapiro & Sternlieb, LLC today at 732-851-1478 for a free consultation.