Who’s Liable for Truck Driver Hours of Service Violations?

Truck drivers and the companies they work for may be responsible for hours of service violations. When driver fatigue or error is a factor in a trucking crash, violating hours of service regulations may be legal negligence. Violators may be responsible for paying compensation to victims.

Call 864-808-1810 or message Jordan Law Center to discuss your case with a licensed trucking accident attorney in Greenville, SC.

Truck Driver Hours of Service Violations

Truck driving can be a dangerous activity. With a commercial semi-truck weighing approximately 25,000 pounds, these heavy vehicles pose a safety risk.

To minimize the risk, United States and South Carolina officials created hours of service rules for truck drivers. Drivers need rest to ensure they can properly focus their attention on driving.

When drivers violate these rules and there is an accident, the trucking company and the driver may be responsible. A victim may bring a claim for compensation.

Laws for Truck Driver Hours of Service

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) truck driver hours of service for drivers transporting property are outlined as follows:

  • 11 hours total driving, after 10 hours of rest
  • 14 hours total in service after coming on duty, after 10 hours of rest
  • 30-minute break required after eight hours without rest; may be exercised in a sleeper birth or on-duty while not driving
  • Total weekly limits of 60/70 hours on duty in seven to eight days; the eight-day driving period restarts after 34 or more hours off duty
  • An extension allowed for up to two hours when driving conditions are poor
  • Different rules for short-haul drivers who stay within a 150-mile area, as determined by air

When a commercial driver carries passengers, the maximum shift is 10 hours. There must be eight hours off duty before the 10-hour period begins. The total shift limit is 15 hours, after eight hours of rest. There are exceptions for adverse driving conditions and short-haul duties.

South Carolina Truck Driver Hours of Service Laws

Title 56 – Motor Vehicles, Chapter 5, Uniform Act Regulating Traffic on Highways creates South Carolina regulations for motor vehicle traffic. § 56-5-90 regulates driving hours for intrastate motor carriers.

Intrastate motor carriers are limited to:

  • A maximum of 12 hours after eight hours of rest
  • 16 hours on duty after eight hours off duty
  • Mandatory rest after 70 hours of work in seven days
  • Eighty hours maximum in eight days

Federal and state laws agree rest is important for commercial motor vehicle drivers. When hours of service violations occur, it is evidence that the driver or trucking company is at fault for the accident.

Logbook violations

In addition to observing minimum rest requirements, commercial drivers must record their hours in logbooks. Logs may be kept electronically in some circumstances.

Generally, commercial drivers must keep logbooks, but there are exceptions for short-haul drivers and for work that does not require a commercial driver’s license.

Logbook rules for truck drivers are intended to ensure compliance with truck driving regulations. When logbooks are incomplete or inaccurate, it may be evidence of negligence. When a trucking crash occurs and records are incomplete or untruthful, it may make a trucking company liable for damages.

Examples of potential logbook violations

Examples of potential logbook violations include:

  • Failing to make a recording
  • Incorrect truck, tractor or trailer number, incorrect carrier or main office
  • Not signing the log
  • Time zone violations (generally using the time zone in effect at the home terminal)
  • Failing to record total hours for each duty status
  • Not recording time in a sleeper berth
  • Errors in the remarks section of the log, including city, town, or village; highway numbers; and mileposts
  • Grid inaccuracies or an incomplete grid
  • Failing to keep logs

Commercial motor carriers may have electronic devices to record information. These Automatic On-Board Recording Devices (AOBRD) may take the place of a paper logbook.

Why do drivers and trucking companies go outside hours of service regulations?

Despite hours of service regulations to prevent accidents resulting from driver fatigue, trucking companies may encourage additional hours to maximize their profits. They may not appreciate the importance of the hours of service regulations. They may allow, ask, or require their drivers to violate the rules of service violations, which may result in a crash.

Hours of service violations, impact on liability in a crash

When a trucking company violates hours of service, it may make them liable when a crash occurs. When a party violates a law, it may be negligence per se. Violation of a statute is presumed evidence of negligence because a person with reasonable prudence follows the laws.

A statute is proof of a duty of care owed to another. Violating the statute may establish a breach of duty. The plaintiff must prove that violation of the statute resulted in an accident and their harm.

Proving Hours of Service Violations in a Trucking Crash

If you are harmed in a crash, hours of service violations may be a contributing factor. Our injury law firm can help you investigate what happened and whether hours of service violations occurred. We can assist you in gathering evidence, including logbooks, and can build evidence to prove causation and your right to compensation.

Talk to a Lawyer at Jordan Law Center – Free Consultation

If you are the victim of a trucking crash, contact a lawyer at Jordan Law Center. It may not be clear how the crash occurred. There may be underlying factors that you don’t know about yet. Our law firm can use legal procedures to demand logbooks, determining whether statutory or regulatory violations may have been a factor in the crash.

At Jordan Law Center, we advocate for victims. If you are the victim of a trucking crash, we may represent you in a claim for compensation. Attorney William Ashley Jordan, III is an experienced trial lawyer, who resolves cases for his clients through trial verdicts and settlements.

Call 864-808-1810 or contact us for a free consultation regarding your case.

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