If you’re traveling on major roads, freeways or highways, chances are good that you’ll encounter a number of commercial trucks. From tanker trucks full of gasoline or milk to eighteen-wheelers loaded with lumber, there are thousands of commercial vehicles on Pennsylvania roads at any given time. While these vehicles and their drivers help keep our stores stocked and products relatively inexpensive, they also represent a serious threat to other drivers on the road. When a passenger vehicle collides with a commercial vehicle, the people in the passenger vehicle are more likely to end up seriously hurt.
Just like with any other driver on the road, commercial truck drivers make mistakes. They drive when they’re tired or not feeling well. They can get distracted by anything from people in another vehicle to their cellphones. It’s also possible that medical conditions, like sleep apnea, could contribute to unsafe driving. Exhaustion or fatigued driving is commonly associated with major crashes, so the federal government has put restrictions in place to keep the roads safer. These rules, called hours of service regulations, help prevent crashes caused by drivers who are tired or fatigued from continuing to drive.
Hours of service rules protect other drivers
The more tired someone is, the greater the chance they could be in a collision on the road. Being fatigued makes you less observant and can increase your response time. When it comes to commercial trucks, that means you could experience a collision with a driver who fails to see you in the lane or who turns in front of you. Drivers who fall asleep at the wheel could also cause a severe, even fatal accident.
Hours of service laws mandate rests and limit the number of both consecutive hours and hours in a week that a commercial driver can work. Commercial drivers transporting goods, not people, have specific limits. They can only drive for 11 consecutive hours after at least a 10 hour rest. They also cannot drive after the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, regardless of what breaks are taken. Drivers are also limited to 60 hours in a 7 day period or 70 hours in an 8 day period. Drivers are required to maintain log books that track breaks and on-duty driving periods.
An attorney can help review options after a crash
If you believe the driver of the commercial vehicle that caused your accident was fatigued, tell your attorney. Your lawyer can investigate whether the driver or the company that hired the driver has a history of breaking or bending hours of service rules. An attorney can also review settlements to ensure they are fair and negotiate with other attorneys or insurance companies.