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Explaining Federal & State “Hours Of Service” For Truckers


When an accident happens that involves a tractor-trailer, one of the potential causes often discussed is whether or not the trucker was violating state or federal hours of service regulations. Both the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the state of Florida (among others) have regulations governing the maximum amount of hours that a trucker should be driving. Failure to abide by these can open them up to accusations of negligence.

Fatigue Kills

If one compares the federal regulations to Florida’s regulations governing tractor-trailers and their drivers, one can see that they are fairly similar, if differing slightly. For example, the federal rules state that a driver may drive for a maximum of 11 hours after 10 hours off duty, while Florida’s rules allow 12. In the event of an accident, the jurisdiction may ultimately determine which set of regulations apply.

Regardless, the entire point of federal and state hours of service regulations is to make roads safer. Driver fatigue plays a significant role in many different types of truck accidents, simply because the weight of a tractor-trailer can cause serious injuries and fatalities with relative impunity. Data from the National Safety Council estimates that tractor-trailers and other large trucks make up around 4 percent of all vehicles on the road, but factor in almost 10 percent of all fatal crashes.

Evidence Of Negligence

While the majority of truck drivers are conscientious, there is unfortunately a pattern of skirting the rules among a minority of truckers that can lead to accidents. Some falsify logbooks; others ignore required break times. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that drivers who drive for more than 8 hours at a stretch are twice as likely to be involved in a crash than those who take breaks.

If you have been involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer, and you believe that fatigue might have been a factor, it is important to keep in mind that a violation of either state or federal hours of service regulation is not a criminal offense in itself. However, it can be persuasive evidence that can speak to someone’s alleged negligence. An experienced attorney can take this and other pieces of evidence and help you establish your claim for compensation.

Call A Tampa Tractor-Trailer Accident Attorney

Fatigue is often a factor in trucking accidents, but it can be difficult to pinpoint. If you suspect that it played a role in your tractor-trailer accident, contacting a Tampa truck accident attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group may be the first step toward making a claim for compensation. Contact our office today for a free consultation.



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