Truck drivers are required to maintain logbooks tracking their work and rest hours. The truck driver logbook should be an accurate record of all driving hours. However, some truck drivers falsify log books to conceal the number of hours they drive without taking breaks or rest periods.
Federal Regulations for Truck Driver Hours
“Hours of service” refer to the number of hours a truck driver may be on duty. It also defines the length of rest periods and breaks that drivers must take. The hours of service rules are in place to help reduce the risk of fatigue and drowsy driving truck accidents.
Some of the hours of service rules that apply to commercial truck drivers hauling property include:
- A truck driver may drive no more than 11 hours after being off duty for ten straight hours
- Cannot drive after the 14th consecutive hour after being off duty for ten straight hours
- Truck drivers must take a 30-minute break after driving for eight hours without interruptions
- The maximum number of driving hours in seven days is 60 hours (70 hours in eight days)
- The maximum number of hours per 7/8 days can restart after taking 34 or more straight hours off duty
There are some exceptions to the hours of service rules for truck drivers who work in teams, short-haul drivers, and drivers using sleeper berths.
Reasons Why Truck Drivers Falsify Logbooks
Unfortunately, truck drivers have a great deal of incentive to drive longer than allowed by federal law. The trucking industry is extremely competitive. For that reason, trucking companies often set unrealistic deadlines for deliveries.
Truck drivers who cannot meet delivery schedules could lose their job. Although trucking companies know that drivers will falsify their logbooks to keep their jobs, they may turn a blind eye. Likewise, independent truck drivers may falsify logbooks to obtain contracts. For example, they may promise delivery dates they know are unrealistic when bidding on jobs.
Monetary gains are the most common reason a truck driver falsifies a logbook. Drivers who are paid by the mile earn more money when they drive longer hours. In addition, drivers who meet deadlines or are early for deliveries may receive bonuses from the truck company.
However, the truck driver is not the only party to gain from falsifying logbooks. Shippers and truckers make more money when the cargo arrives at a destination ahead of schedule. The faster truck drivers deliver goods, the sooner they can take another load.
Dangers of Falsifying Truck Logbooks for Other Drivers
Drowsy and fatigued driving is a common cause of commercial truck accidents. Drowsy driving is a contributing factor in as many as 1.2 million traffic accidents each year. Missing just a few hours of sleep can significantly increase the risk of a car accident.
Driving a semi-truck requires a great deal of concentration. Sitting for long hours and concentrating on the road can cause fatigue. Tired truck drivers are more likely to make mistakes.
- Severe burns and disfigurement
- Amputations and loss of limbs
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Injuries to internal organs
- Spinal cord injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Broken bones and fractures
A person may sustain several injuries in a truck accident. Many of those injuries may be life-threatening or cause permanent disabilities. The damages caused by a drowsy driving truck accident can total millions of dollars. For that reason, insurance companies and trucking companies aggressively fight these injury claims.
Who is Responsible for a Commercial Truck Accident?
The truck driver can be held liable for causing an accident. The driver may have fallen asleep at the wheel because of an excessive number of hours driving.
The trucking company may be held liable for damages, especially if the company encouraged drivers to exceed hours of service or ignored violations of federal regulations.
A truck accident lawsuit could result in compensation for damages such as:
- The cost of medical treatment and nursing care
- The cost of personal care and household services
- Physical pain and suffering
- Impairments, disfigurement, and disability
- Loss of income and benefits
- Future lost wages and diminished earning capacity
- Loss of enjoyment of life and reduced quality of life
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
A truck accident attorney has the experience, knowledge, and resources to investigate the cause of the truck crash. The lawyer can obtain copies of the logbooks, truck maintenance records, employee records, and other evidence that helps prove the truck driver and trucking company are responsible for your damages.
You deserve compensation for injuries and damages caused by a truck accident. Make sure you take the steps necessary to protect your rights after a traffic accident involving a large truck.