Log Books for 18 Wheelers
Due to the fact that 18-wheelers are very dangerous due to their size and weight, the trucking industry is tightly regulated by the government. One of the chief concerns is driver fatigue – the government does not want overworked truck drivers dozing off at the wheel and causing accidents. To prevent truck drivers from becoming too tired to make sound decisions or even from falling asleep at the wheel, laws have been passed implementing a log book system to make sure that truck drivers do not drive too many hours.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, federal hour limitations apply when a truck weighs over 10,000 pounds. Effectively, this means that almost all 18-wheelers are covered, since the average 18-wheeler weighs almost 70,000 pounds when loaded with cargo. An 18-wheeler can drive up to 11 hours straight, but only if they have been “off duty” for at least 10 hours in a row previously. What is more, the truck driver has to work all of these 11 hours within 14 hours of coming “on duty”. In addition, truck drivers can only be “on-duty” for 60 hours in a 7-day workweek or 70 hours in an 8-day workweek, and must take at least 34 hours off between workweeks. The drivers are supposed to keep track of when they are on and off duty in a logbook. The basic idea is to make sure that truck drivers have enough rest so that they will not fall asleep at the wheel and cause a major accident.
While these regulations are great for ensuring the safety of both the truck driver and all other vehicles on the road, they also limit some of the profitability that trucking companies enjoy. Some unscrupulous companies persist in setting unrealistic hours and working truck drivers past what is allowed by federal regulation. A few companies may encourage the drivers to falsify their log books so that the drivers can put in more hours than are legally allowed without leaving too much of a trail of evidence behind.
No matter what the reason is behind exceeding the federally mandated hours limits, drivers and employers who do not adhere to the limits are setting themselves up for massive damages. If there is an accident and it comes to light that the truck driver was over on his hours and was presumably fatigued, a finding of negligence on the drivers’ part is almost guaranteed. What is more, if a post-accident investigation turns up evidence that the driver was encouraged to go over his hours by his employer, a judge may assess punitive damages, which are damages designed to punish a bad actor in a case and which can double or even triple the amount a victim can recover. Even if truck drivers falsify their log books, a thorough investigation may turn up evidence to show that the documentation does not add up and serious consequences are in order.
Hours limits and log books are in place to protect motorists and prevent massive truck accidents related to fatigue from occurring. A victim of an 18-wheeler accident would be may wish, with the possible help of an attorney, to look into the log books and other evidence and confirm that the truck driver and employer followed the law in this very important area.
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident in San Antonio or anywhere in Texas, We can Help… Call Carabin Shaw @ 1.800.862.1260