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Proving driver fatigue in truck accident litigation

Long haul drivers spend a lot of time on the road. There are specific regulations they must follow regarding rest, but not all drivers follow them as they push themselves to meet delivery deadlines. This is why truck accident litigation here in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere will often focus on whether the driver was fatigued. Understanding the hours of service regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is a place to start.

Truck drivers are only allowed to drive a certain number of hours after resting for a certain number of hours. For example, a driver can be on the road for no more than 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off the road. Another regulation allows drivers to be on the road for a maximum of 14 hours from the time he or she comes on duty (after 10 consecutive hours off duty) regardless of whether the driver took any time off during that 14 hours.

There are other rules as well such as mandatory rest periods and a maximum number of hours that can be driven in seven to eight consecutive days. Drivers are required to keep a log book noting their hours of service and when they rested. These books are often the first place to look when beginning an investigation into an accident involving a tractor-trailer.

Washington D.C. residents who were seriously injured -- or lost a loved one -- in an accident believed to have been caused by the driver of a big rig would benefit from discussing the matter with a truck accident litigation attorney. Driver fatigue causes a significant number of truck accidents here and across the country every year. In some cases, being tired is just a symptom, but it is a place to begin proving the driver's negligence to the court.

Source: fmcsa.dot.gov, "Summary of Hours of Service Regulations", Nov. 19, 2016

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