The number of hours which truck drivers are allowed to be working is mandated by the Department of Transportation (DOT). According to the DOT, truck drivers are only allowed to operate their trucks for a limited number of hours a week in order to prevent them from overworking and getting fatigued. Fatigue is a major cause of truck accidents and therefore rules and regulations have been put forth to prevent drivers from getting too tired.
The general hours of service guidelines are:
- Each period of work must begin only after a minimum of 10 hours off work
- Drivers are limited to 11 hours of driving at a time
- Drivers are not allowed to work more than 60 hours through 7 consecutive days
There are exceptions to the above rules, however. Say for instance a truck driver is driving in very bad weather conditions and the 11-hour driving maximum has been reached while they are in an unsafe area. In this case, drivers are allowed to operate their trucks for up to two more hours in order to reach a safe destination to park and take a break.
A truck accident attorney in Lake Charles, Louisiana can assist a person in defending themselves in court if they are accused of exceeding their work hours. These rules have been put in place for a very good reason. If drivers are fatigued they are at far greater risk of falling asleep while driving or making a serious mistake on the road which could eventually lead to a serious accident.
If a driver made the mistake of exceeding their legal limit simply to earn more money or to get home sooner, and they get caught in the act, hiring a legal professional to help decrease their liabilities is in their best interest.
How can I be penalized if I exceed the Hours of Service limits?
If a truck driver is pulled over on the suspicion of having crossed their driving hour limit they can be put on a roadside-shut down in which they are not allowed to drive any further until they have rested for enough hours. A person may also be subject to facing various fines depending on whether they broke traffic rules while they were driving, or if they managed to get into an accident as well.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration can also opt to give penalties which could cost the driver anywhere between $1000-$11,000. The amount a person pays depends on the severity of their violation and also on the severity of any damage which may have been caused because of them breaking the rules.
Also, if a truck driver or a trucking company has repeated violations then their safety rating may be decreased which could negatively affect their business overall. Getting caught for breaking the rules can get a person in some seriously hot water with the law and their job could be at stake. In order to decrease their fines and penalties, it is always a good idea to discuss all the possible options with a legal professional before taking any action on one’s own.