Large trucks, commonly referred to as “semis,” are a common component of highway driving in America. These 18-wheeled trucks weigh approximately 30,000 pounds without any cargo, making them an especially intimidating vehicle to cruise alongside. In order to ensure the safety of truck drivers, as well as other driver nearby, state laws restrict the number of hours a truck driver can work and the amount of cargo a truck may transport.
Hours of Service Restrictions
Because truck drivers carry cargo across America, which may take several days, there are restrictions on how many hours a driver can work consecutively and cumulatively so as to prevent driver fatigue. Driver fatigue is a condition that is associated with spending long hours on the road. Driver fatigue reduces attentiveness and awareness; consequently increasing the chances for an accident to occur. Hours of service restrictions mandate that:
– Truck drivers are not permitted to drive more than 11 consecutive hours within a 14-hour period following 10 consecutive hours off-duty.
– Truck drivers are not permitted to drive more than a total of 14 hours in any 24 hour period.
– Truck drivers cannot be on-duty for more than 60 hours in any consecutive 7 day period, or more than 70 hours in any consecutive 8 day period.
If a truck driver violates the hours of service restrictions and an accident occurs, he or she may be held liable for any damages that resulted from their negligence. If a trucking company tolerates or encourages their drivers to violate these hours of service agreements, the entire company may be liable.
In addition to hours of service limitations, truck drivers must also abide by maximum weight restrictions. The Department of Transportation regulates that a vehicle must not exceed 102 inches wide, 13.5 feet in height and 80,000 lbs gross weight; however, individual states have the right to issue temporary oversize and/or overweight permits. Violations of truck size and weight permits are unlawful and dangerous, as it may increase the possibility for an accident to occur.
If you have been involved in an accident with a large truck, and you suspect that the driver was violating the hours of service restrictions or weigh limit restrictions, the driver and the truck company may be liable for your losses. With the help of an experienced truck accident attorney, you may be able to receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, and the wrongful death of a loved one.