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Why are Hours of Service so Important for Truck Drivers in New York?

— July 7, 2022

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has introduced the Hours of Service (HoS) in an effort to prevent driver fatigue, one of the leading causes of truck accidents in the US. 

New York, NY – With the current disruptions in the supply chain, truck drivers are now more than ever under terrible pressure to deliver goods as fast as possible. So are trucking companies who have to fend off clients demanding to get raw materials for their operations or food to stock the shelves NOW. The people of New York City are also upset when there’s an item missing at their local store. Unfortunately, it is the residents in the Big Apple who pay the price of all the ensuing madness on the roads. The number of truck accidents is on the rise, which means people are injured or killed every single day.

Under the circumstances, if you’re involved in an accident involving a commercial vehicle, you should get in touch with a New York truck accident lawyer and have them check if the trucker complied with the Hours of Service regulations.

What are the Hours of Service?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has introduced the Hours of Service (HoS) in an effort to prevent driver fatigue, one of the leading causes of truck accidents in the US. 

According to the HoS regulations, a commercial driver transporting goods can drive for a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off. If they’re transporting passengers, they can only drive for 10 hours in one shift. After 8 hours behind the wheel, the driver must take a 30 minutes break.

The FMCSA also regulates the number of hours a commercial driver can work in one week. No matter what they’re transporting, commercial drivers cannot work for more than 60 hours in 7 days or 70 hours in 8 days. After a week of work, the driver must take at least 34 hours off before they can go back on the road. 

How can you verify Hours of Service compliance?

If you’re in a crash, the first thing you should do is have a good look at the trucker. Does he seem very tired? Does he have dark circles under his eyes? Take pictures and pass them on to your New York accident lawyers.

Also, talk to the eyewitnesses. Does the trucker seem tired to them as well? Make sure to get their names and contact info as witness testimony may come in handy.

However, the most important thing is to tell your lawyers about your suspicions right away. Your lawyers will subpoena the trucking company, asking to see the data on the driver’s log. Commercial drivers are required to keep track of their activity and many of the newer trucks are equipped with an Electronic Logging Device, which is tamper-proof, something like the black box on a plane. 

If your attorneys discover any HoS violation, they’ll want to know why that happened.

Who can you sue in a case of fatigued driving?

Tired driver; image by Johan Funke, via
Tired driver; image by Johan Funke, via

If the driver wasted time on the road and was trying to make up for it by driving for more than allowed in one shift, your lawyers will file a claim against their insurance or they’ll sue if a settlement is not possible. Or if their insurance doesn’t cover all your damages.

On the other hand, if it was the employer that set an unrealistic schedule or encouraged the driver to break the law, you can hold the trucking company accountable. 

Your attorneys may also invoke the vicarious liability doctrine, which states that the employer may be liable for damages for the unlawful actions of an employee.

If you have sustained severe injuries, suing the trucking company is an option worth considering as companies operating interstate are required to carry at least $750,000 in liability coverage. 

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