Accidents involving large trucks and commercial vehicles often result in serious and fatal injuries. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were over 4,000 fatal truck accidents in 2015, and another 87,000 accidents resulting in serious injuries. Truckers routinely drive long hours over consecutive days that leave many fatigued, which is a leading cause of trucking accidents. To help reduce the number of trucking accidents caused by driver fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has recently released new mandates on hours of service regulations.
At Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. we represent victims injured in trucking accidents. Our law firm is dedicated to helping injured victims and the families of those who have been fatally injured in a trucking accident collect the maximum compensation they are entitled to receive. Our legal team uses our 30 years of experience to help our clients reach successful outcomes.
Hours of Service
The FMCSA has initiated new hours of service regulations for commercial vehicle drivers. These rules apply to all drivers of trucks, busses, and vans that weigh in excess of 10,000 pounds, transport hazardous materials or passengers. The regulations pertain to consecutive hours on the job, which can include the hours a driver spends waiting to be dispatched, loaded, unloaded, and those spent inspecting, maintaining, and conditioning the vehicle, as well as drug and alcohol testing.
The new regulations also require that truck drivers keep a detailed log book that is essential to compliance as well as in truck accident investigations. Each driver must log their record of duty status in their own handwriting with their signature to verify the validity of the record. Drivers must record all activity under their scheduled time of duty, including time spent driving, time spent sleeping in the berth of the truck, total miles driven, details on cargo hauled, and even time spent eating. Toll tickets, fuel receipts, and other documentation are used to validate these records.
Property-Carrying and Passenger-Carrying Commercial Vehicles
Commercial trucks and motor vehicles are divided into two classes; those that carry cargo and those that transport passengers. Trucks fall under the property-carrying classification. Other motor vehicles that are designed to transport eight or more passengers for compensation, or those that are designed to transport 15 or more passengers not used for compensation, are considered passenger-carrying commercial vehicles. There are slightly different hours of service for each of these categories.
Property-carrying truck drivers are limited to driving 11 consecutive hours following an off-duty period of 10 hours or more. Drivers can extend their driving time to a 14-hour limit, but only after having an off-duty period of 10 consecutive hours. Mandatory rest breaks of 30 minutes must be taken every eight hours. A driver is also restricted to driving no more than 60 to 70 hours in a seven to eight-day period. This seven to eight-day time frame can be reset after an off-duty period of 34 consecutive hours. Drivers are required to spend at least eight hours in a sleeper berth of their truck and another two-hour rest period or off-duty shift during each 24-hour period.
Passenger-carrying commercial vehicle mandates are different. Drivers have a 10 hour driving limit and require a mandatory eight hours of off-duty time to be able to take advantage of the 15-hour extended driving time allowance. They have the same restriction of not driving more than 60 to 70 hours in a seven to eight-day period. Drivers must spend eight hours in their sleeping birth, but can use them in two time periods that are no less than two hours in length.
South Carolina Truck Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Help Injured Victims of Trucking Accidents
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident involving a truck or commercial motor vehicle, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the experienced Columbia truck accident lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. at 803-929-3600, or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our offices are conveniently located throughout South Carolina and we serve clients in Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County, as well as the towns of Columbia, Lexington, Irmo, Chapin, Rock Hill, Aiken, Sumter, Newberry, Florence, and Spartanburg.