The hours of service rules were designed to deal with one issue that leads to accidents – driver tiredness. Truck accidents typically result in injuries ranging from serious to critical. This is simply because of the sheer disparity between the size of a truck and an average SUV. A good Charlotte truck accident lawyer can help you recover compensatory damages in a crash like this. However, it must first be demonstrated that the truck driver or trucking company was guilty of negligence.
One way of doing this is by looking at the hours of service rules. These are stringent requirements that must be followed by commercial vehicle drivers. If these requirements are not followed, the truck driver and the company employing the driver can both be held liable.
Two separate sets of hours-of-service rules are defined at the federal and state levels. The federal rules apply to interstate trucking and the state rules apply to intrastate trucking.
Why Hours of Service Rules Are Important?
The purpose of these rules is to define and limit the maximum number of hours commercial vehicle drivers can drive. Such a limitation ensures that the drivers take mandated stops and breaks at regular intervals.
Many commercial truck accidents occur simply because the driver becomes overworked and fatigued. When drivers work for longer hours without breaks, they become physically and mentally exhausted. This impairs their judgment which can lead to dangerous accidents.
The hours of service rules aim to avoid this. All commercial drivers are obliged to comply with these rules. Failure to do so can result in fines and a ban from operating commercial vehicles.
Federal Rules For Interstate Trucking
When commercial vehicles are engaged in interstate trucking, federal rules and regulations apply. Here is a look at the federal hours of service rule as defined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA):
- 14-hour Driving Window: A driver must not operate a commercial vehicle for more than 14 hours after being off-duty for at least 10 consecutive hours.
- 11-hour Driving Limit: After taking 10 consecutive hours off duty, a commercial driver may drive a maximum of 11 hours.
- 30-Minute Break: More recently, FMSCA has imposed a new requirement on commercial drivers. As per this requirement, truckers must take a 30-minute break after driving for 8 consecutive hours.
- 60 hour/7 day duty limit or 70 hour/8 day duty limit: A commercial driver must drive for a total of 60 hours within 7 days or 70 hours within 8 days. This 60/70 hours limit is measured on a rolling basis for 7/8 days. After a given 7/8 day period is over, the driver may take at least 34 hours off before starting the next such period.
North Carolina Rules for Intrastate Trucking
When it comes to intrastate transportation and commerce, state-specific trucking rules apply to commercial vehicles and drivers. This means that truckers operating within North Carolina must comply with the state’s own hours of service rules.
Most of NC’s hours of service rules are adopted from the federal rules but with some modifications. Here is a look at these.
- 12-Hour Driving Limit. A commercial driver can’t drive for more than 12 hours when resuming work after 8 consecutive off-duty hours.
- 16-Hour On-Duty Limit. A commercial driver is not allowed to drive for any period of time if the driver has been on-duty for 16 consecutive hours following an 8-hour off-duty period.
- 70 Hours/7 Day and 80 Hours/8 Day Limit. A driver can’t be on-duty for more than 70 hours in a 7-day period, or 80 hours in an 8-day period. This is in contrast to the 60/70 limit imposed by federal regulations.
- Drivers must report an accident to the Department of Public Safety within 30 days.
- An accident that results in injuries must be reported by the commercial trucker to the Public Service Commission within 15 days.
- If a commercial vehicle accident results in a fatality, it must be reported to the Public Service Commission within 24 hours.
Why Hire a Charlotte Truck Accident Lawyer?
If you have been a victim of a truck accident in Charlotte, NC we can help you. Here at Ted Greve & Associates, we work with you to make sure you receive fair compensation for your crash-related losses. We also help prove liability by considering regulations like hours-of-service rules. Our lawyers coordinate with you to see if you can file a claim against more than one party. Call us today to discuss the details of your truck accident with our lawyers.