How Do You Prove Driver Fatigue/Hours of Service Violation After a Truck Accident?
To avoid accidents, semi-truck drivers must stay alert while they’re on the road. Unfortunately, a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) study found that 13% of large truck accidents are caused by driver fatigue, and 10% of crashes occur due to carry pressure, often pushing drivers to work long hours with little rest.
To combat fatigued driving, the FMCSA has stringent Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, mandating rest periods and detailed log-keeping by drivers. These requirements help curb drowsy driving, but accidents still happen.
If you sustained injuries in a crash, our Appleton commercial truck accident lawyers at Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers can obtain HOS driving logs to investigate fatigue-related causes and pursue compensation for your damages.
HOS regulations are guidelines established by the FMCSA to ensure the safety and well-being of commercial vehicle drivers. Enacted in 1937, these rules limit the number of consecutive hours drivers can be on the road and mandate specific rest periods. The intent is to reduce accidents caused by driver fatigue.
Current regulations include the following criteria:
|Criteria||Property-Carrying Drivers||Passenger Carrying-Drivers|
|Driving Limit||11 hours after 10 hours off||10 hours after 8 hours off|
|Max. Hours Before Mandatory Rest||14 hours after 10 hours off||15 hours after 8 hours off|
|Break Requirement||30 minutes after 8 hours||Same as property-carrying|
|Max. Hours in a Week||60/70 hours in 7/8 consecutive days||60|
Daily log books are essential tools used by truck drivers to record their hours of service. These logs ensure they adhere to regulatory limits and prioritize road user safety.
Historically, drivers maintained these logs manually, jotting down entries in paper log books. However, many now use Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs), which automatically capture drive time, making tracking more accurate and tamper-resistant.
Whether manual or electronic, these logs must include specific details, including:
- Basic information like the date, vehicle number, and carrier’s name
- Driving hours, including the time spent behind the wheel
- Periods of rest or breaks taken during the workday
- Off-duty times (time spent not working or resting)
- On-duty, not driving time, including activities like loading, unloading, and administrative tasks
Carriers are mandated to keep these records of duty status (RODS) and associated backup data for six months. If you’re involved in a crash with a fatigued driver, speak with an attorney as soon as possible to obtain these records for your claim.
When involved in a truck accident, the HOS log books can be crucial evidence for your case. Your attorney can use these records to investigate the accident and prove negligence or regulatory violation by the driver or their employer to hold them accountable.
Here’s how our truck accident lawyers at Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers can use HOS log books:
- Identify violations. By cross-referencing the logs with established regulations, we can identify any breaches in mandated rest periods or driving hours. This can highlight instances where the driver may have been non-compliant with federal laws.
- Corroborate testimonies. Log books can be used to verify or refute driver or witness statements. By comparing what was said with the actual logged data, we can highlight discrepancies, potentially revealing attempts to hide negligent behavior or mistakes.
- Analyze backup data. Electronic logging devices store backup data that records recorded hours and changes. By examining this data, your attorney can determine if the original logs have been tampered with or altered, offering insights into possible cover-up attempts or discrepancies in reported hours.
- Establish fatigue. Extended driving hours without mandated breaks can lead to driver fatigue. By highlighting HOS violations from the log, we can argue that fatigue played a role in the accident, helping you prove negligence and win maximum compensation.
- Timeline creation. By studying the log books, we can construct a detailed timeline leading up to the accident. This can provide context and show behavior patterns and the driver’s actions before the collision.
- Compare with other evidence. Log books can be cross-referenced with GPS data, surveillance footage, or phone records. This approach can provide an understanding of the situation and the factors leading to the accident.
Proving driver fatigue and HOS violations following a truck accident requires understanding the regulations and careful investigation. At Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers, we can obtain HOS log books and analyze the information to determine FMCSA violations and corroborate evidence to present a solid case.
If you’ve suffered injuries in a truck accident in Appleton and suspect driver fatigue played a role, acting promptly is critical for preserving evidence to establish your case. Contact us today for knowledgeable legal support and start your compensation claim.