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Why some truck drivers violate Hours-of-Service (HOS) rules

On Behalf of | May 14, 2024 | Truck Accidents

The massive eighteen-wheelers that rumble down highways are the backbone of American commerce. Unfortunately, the immense responsibility of maneuvering these commercial vehicles comes with a hidden danger: fatigued driving.

Federal regulations, known as Hours-of-Service (HOS) rules, dictate how long truckers can drive and must rest to minimize fatigue. Despite these crucial safeguards, violations remain a persistent issue. What are the reasons behind these violations, and what alarming safety risks do they inspire?

The allure of efficiency and financial pressure

The economic forces at play in the trucking industry are a significant driver of HOS violations. Carriers often operate on tight schedules and budgets, incentivizing drivers to deliver their loads faster. Drivers may feel pressured to exceed their allotted driving hours to meet deadlines, especially when faced with unpredictable factors like bad weather or traffic delays.

Company culture and communication breakdowns

The culture within trucking companies can also play a role in HOS violations. Some companies may prioritize profit over safety, implicitly or explicitly encouraging drivers to bend the rules. Drivers might feel pressured to meet unrealistic deadlines set by dispatchers, fearing repercussions for delays.

Furthermore, a lack of clear communication between companies and drivers can exacerbate the issue. Ineffective scheduling or unrealistic delivery timeframes can pressure drivers to cut corners on rest periods.

The biological toll of fatigue

Truck drivers operate in a demanding environment. Long hours of driving can take a significant toll on their bodies. Fatigue impairs cognitive function, reaction time and situational awareness – all crucial elements for safe driving.

A driver battling fatigue is more prone to errors in judgment, such as lane drifting, delayed braking and microsleeping – brief periods of unconsciousness that can have disastrous consequences. Studies have shown that fatigued driving can be as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol.

The ripple effect of increased accident risk

Violations of HOS regulations significantly elevate the risk of truck accidents. A fatigued driver’s impaired cognitive abilities drastically increase the likelihood of an accident. The consequences of such accidents are often catastrophic.

Commercial trucks can cause devastating injuries or fatalities to occupants of smaller vehicles involved in a collision. Not to mention that accidents involving hazardous materials may pose a threat to public health and safety.

Ultimately, truck driver compliance with HOS regulations isn’t simply about abiding by the law; it’s about road safety. When violations lead to harm, victims are likely in a strong position to seek compensation accordingly.

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