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How to Prove a Truck Driver Was Fatigued

Hours of Service Records Could Be Key in Accident Cases

In 2017, 116,000 people were injured in accidents involving large trucks. In a truck accident case, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but that is generally only true if negligence occurred. Drivers who operate motor vehicles while tired may be violating their duty of care to you, which could be considered negligent.

What Are the Current Hours of Service Regulations?

Drivers are allowed to spend up to 14 hours on duty each day, and they are allowed to drive for 11 hours during this period. After that period expires, commercial truck operators are required to be off of the road for at least 10 hours. This is true whether an individual has not finished a delivery or is only a few minutes from returning home. Hours are tracked through the use of an electronic logging device (ELD) that is hooked up to the truck itself. Therefore, the information that your attorney may review is generally considered to be accurate and thorough. This is because it is harder to alter electronic records as opposed to paper records. However, if a driver was using paper logs for any reason, legal counsel may be able to use those as evidence in your personal injury case.

Complying With the Law Does Not Mean a Person Is Fit to Drive

A driver can comply with hours of service requirements while still being too tired to drive. This is because there is no way to tell if a driver is getting enough sleep during his or her 10 hours off. There is also no way to tell if a driver is able to drive seven or eight hours straight without nodding off or falling asleep entirely. Drivers who have medical issues may not sleep well at night, which makes them vulnerable to fatigue. They may also have trouble adjusting to driving overnight or during the early morning hours. An Allentown truck accident attorney may be able to review hour logs and other records to determine if driver fatigue likely played a role in your accident.  

How Many Hours a Week Was an Individual Working?

While there are limits to how many hours a person can drive per day, a driver may be able to work as many hours per week as he or she wants. Therefore, it is possible for a commercial vehicle operator to log more hours than he or she can reasonably handle in a week or over a period of several weeks. Professional drivers would likely know how long they can work before experiencing moderate mental fatigue or outright burnout. Those who take a shift knowing that they are mentally or physically impaired could be negligent if they cause a crash to occur. This is because they knew or should have known that they were a danger to themselves or others. Research has shown that driving after not sleeping for 24 straight hours is the equivalent of driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.10%. That is roughly twice the legal limit for someone who has a commercial license.

Can Drivers Exceed Hours of Service Limits?

It is unlikely that a trucker would go past his or her hours of service limits. This is because exceeding these limits could result in being put out of service for a day or more. Of course, a driver could ignore the rules and continue operating his or her vehicle. If this happens, it can be used as evidence that an individual willfully ignored a regulation despite knowing the consequences of doing so. It may be the clearest sign that the driver who hit you was acting in a negligent manner. If you are looking for an Allentown truck accident attorney to help with your case, contact the law firm of Metzger & Kleiner today. You can reach our Philadelphia office by calling (215) 567-6616 or our Lehigh Valley office at (610) 435-7400.

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