A truck driver’s log book containing his hours of duty can be critical in a semi-truck claim because it may be evidence of trucking company liability. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a part of the United States Department of Transportation, provides rules governing hours of service for truck drivers. If a truck driver fails to abide by the rules and subsequently causes a truck accident, it could apportion the carrier with legal liability for victims’ damages.
Hours of Service Rules for Truck Drivers
All commercial truck drivers are expected to adhere to the federal rules regarding their hours of duty. The FMCSA Interstate Truck Driver’s Guide to Hours of Service states: “The primary reason for the hours-of-service regulations [is] to keep fatigued drivers off the public roadways.
These laws put limits in place for when and how long you may drive, to ensure that you stay awake and alert while driving, and on a continuing basis to help reduce the possibility of driver fatigue.”
The rules for drivers that are carrying property vary slightly from those carrying passengers. The latter is more stringent.
Below are a few of the rules for truck drivers with property cargo.
- They cannot drive more than 11 hours after having ten consecutive off-duty hours.
- They cannot drive more than 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty, following ten consecutive hours off-duty. Increasing their off-duty time does not increase the 14-hour max.
- Rest breaks are mandatory if they want to drive an eight- to 14-hour shift. They must take at least one 30 minute break after the eight-hour mark.
- They cannot drive more than 60/70 hours in 7/8 consecutive days. A new 7/8 consecutive day period begins only when the truck driver has taken 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
Preserving the Truck Driver’s Hours of Service Logbook
If the trucker caused the accident and was in violation of the hours of service rules, it’s essential to act quickly to preserve the logbook. Carriers are only required to retain them for a certain amount of time, and often, vital evidence is lost or destroyed.
To obtain and protect the logbook, your attorney can send the carrier a letter of spoliation, which essentially informs them of your claim and their legal requirement to preserve the evidence.