What are the Hours of Service rules and why do they matter to truck accident victims?

Truck accidents—like other motor vehicle accidents—can occur for a variety of reasons, some of them preventable and some of them less preventable. Whenever a truck accident occurs, it is critical for accident victims to have their case thoroughly evaluated to determine what potentially liable parties were involved, what legal claims and damages may be appropriate, and to gather the strongest possible evidence to support these claims and damages.

In any truck accident, building a case for liability should always include an examination of whether the truck driver involved in the crash was in compliance with federal and state trucking regulations and rules at the time of the crash. Although violations will, in some cases, not have a direct connection to the crash, in some cases they do. One common area where this is seen is with Hours of Service violations.

The federal Hours of Service rules were put in place primarily to address the issue of fatigue among truck drivers. Because of the long hours on the road and industry pressure to maximize productivity, truck drivers are more prone to driver fatigue, which makes them more likely to cause accidents. The Hours of Service rules apply not only to truck drivers, but to all commercial motor vehicles which meet certain specifications. The rules are slightly different for property-carrying drivers and passenger-carrying drivers, and a summary can of them can be found here.

Truck drivers who cause accidents as a result of their failure to abide by the Hours of Service rules, or any other state or federal safety regulations, should be held accountable to those they harm.  Accident victims should work with an experienced attorney to build the strongest possible case and to maximize their chances of obtaining a fair damages award.