While all box trucks, 18 wheelers, and tractor trailers are still dangerous vehicles when driven carefully, when a truck driver falls asleep at the wheel these large commercial trucks become unguided missiles on our roads. On highways and interstates these large trucks become weapons of devastating. The cause for many fatal trucking accidents throughout the United States is due to drowsy driving or falling asleep at the wheel by a truck driver. This may be an hours of service violation.
This is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has devoted an entire part of their federal trucking regulations to what is know has “hours of service.” These regulations apply to commercial vehicles like semi tractor trailers and big rigs, and given the conduct of both truck drivers and trucking companies. The reason for these hours of service regulations is because safety is the biggest concern and keeping fatigued truck drivers off of public roads is of paramount concern.
Hours of service regulations are in Part 395 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations. These regulations dictate when and for how long a truck driver is allowed to operate a commercial truck on the roadway. The regulations place specific limits on the amount of time that a truck driver can work.
There are many hours of service regulations which can be complicated and fact-dependent. Generally, a truck driver may only have a 14 hour window to drive a truck at a time. Once that 14 hour window finishes, the truck driver must be off duty for at least 10 hours before resuming driving.
However, during this 14 hour window, the truck driver is only allowed to drive the truck for up to 11 total hours. Once a truck driver has reached 11 hours, even if there is still time on the 14 hour window, the truck driver must cease operating his or her vehicle and be off duty for 10 consecutive hours.
In addition, a truck driver must take a 30 minute break from driving if it has been more than 8 consecutive hours since the last time off-duty.
If a New Mexico truck crash is caused by any FMCSA violation, including an hours of service violation, an individual injured by the crash may be able to use the violations of the regulation as evidence of negligence. This means that a victim may be able to help prove his or her trucking accident case by establishing the violation only, if the violation is meant to prevent the harm that was caused. In this type of crash, because of the FMCSA’s stated purpose of keeping safety in mind, it is likely that an individual will be able to use this doctrine known as negligence per se.
New Mexico trucking crashes caused by a truck driver falling asleep at the wheel can result in serious personal injuries or wrongful death. If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident, call the experienced New Mexico trucking accident attorneys at the NM Truck Accident Attorneys today by dialing (505) 883-5000 You can also contact us on our website through the easy to use and convenient Contact box located by clicking here.