Hours of Service Violations in California

Federal regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) set strict limits on commercial truck drivers’ driving hours, number of breaks during shifts, and number of off-duty days before beginning another trip. When a trucking company fails to properly monitor their drivers’ hours, or a driver improperly or fraudulently logs hours, it can result in fatigued driving, and a higher chance of an accident with injuries to vulnerable motorists.

Understand Hours of Service Regulations for Truck Drivers

FMCSA puts regulations in place to limit a driver’s hours to minimize the risks of a drowsy driving accident. Service hour regulations in California are as follows:

  • Drivers cannot drive for more than 12 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty
  • After spending 16 hours on the road, drivers must cease driving for at least 10 hours
  • Drivers cannot drive after being on duty for 80 hours for eight consecutive days

Some additional requirements through FMCSA exist for interstate drivers through federal regulations. These include the following:

  • Drivers cannot be on duty for more than 14 consecutive hours after being off duty for a minimum of 10 consecutive hours.
  • Truckers can’t drive for more than 11 hours during a 14-hour duty period
  • Drivers must take at least a 30-minute break after driving for eight hours since their last break

Drivers must not violate the state or federal driving regulations or fail to accurately log their hours. Fraudulent or inaccurate log entries are a serious violation and leave truckers and/or trucking companies liable for damages.

What are the Risks of Service Hour Violations for California Truck Drivers?

Drivers sometimes exceed their driving hours due to unrealistic delivery schedules set by trucking companies that incentivize employees to violate service hours or make fraudulent entries into their driving logs. When a driver exceeds the limits, they may experience driving fatigue with symptoms such as the following:

  • Blurred vision
  • Excessive yawning
  • Frequent eye rubbing and heavy eyes
  • Head nodding/dozing
  • Wandering, dream-like thoughts
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Inability to remember the last few miles driven or navigating intersections and stop signs
  • Tailgating other drivers

All of the above signs of sleepiness have a serious impact on driving ability, including slower reaction times and impaired judgment with symptoms similar to those of intoxicated driving.

Drivers can quickly go from drowsy to dozing behind the wheel. When they are hurtling along in a large truck weighing as much as 80,000 pounds and fully loaded, they pose a grave danger to other motorists on the road.

After Service Hour Violations And Driving Fatigue

Truck accidents are devasting, with drivers in smaller vehicles at a greater risk than truck drivers. Common accidents involving large commercial trucks include the following:

  • Rear-end collisions
  • Head-on collisions
  • Sideswipe accidents
  • T-bone accidents in intersections
  • Jackknife accidents
  • Rollover accidents

Driving fatigue also makes it more likely for drivers to engage in distracting activities, such as texting, checking social media, or selecting podcasts or playlists from a smartphone. Distracted driving is a common cause of commercial truck accidents.

How Can a California Truck Accident Lawyer Help?

When truck drivers violate service hour regulations and cause an accident due to drowsy driving, they or the trucking company they work for are liable for damages like medical expenses, lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering. Call Younglove Law Firm so we can take prompt action and represent your best interests throughout the process of your case.

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