Our Michigan truck accident lawyers can often establish that truck driver fatigue and drowsiness were conditions that contributed to a trucking accident. Truck drivers often work long hours on road travelling through several states and have significant pressure and time restrictions placed upon them by their employers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has regulations limiting driving hours, but these are often ignored and also do not necessarily eliminate the problem of fatigue.
With respect to issues of driver fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act has the following provisions:
49 C.F.R. § 392.3, Driver Impairment.
No driver shall operate a commercial motor vehicle, and a motor carrier shall not require or permit a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle, while the driver's ability or alertness is so impaired, or so likely to become impaired, through fatigue, illness, or any other cause, as to make it unsafe for him/her to begin or continue to operate the commercial motor vehicle.
FMCSR, 49 C.F.R. § 390.11 Motor carrier to require observance of driver regulations.
Whenever ... a duty is prescribed for a driver or a prohibition is imposed upon the driver, it shall be the duty of the motor carrier to require observance of such duty or prohibition. If the motor carrier is a driver, the driver shall likewise be bound.
FMCSR, 49 C.F.R. § 390.13, provides that
"No person shall aid, abet, encourage, or require a motor carrier or its employees to violate the rules of this chapter." It does not say "no motor carrier."
FMCSR, 49 CFR 390.5 defines "person" as follows:
Person means any individual, partnership, association, corporation, business trust, or any other organized group of individuals.
FMCSR, 49 CFR § 395.3 Maximum driving time for property-carrying vehicles.
Subject to the exceptions and exemptions in § 395.1:
(a) No motor carrier shall permit or require any driver used by it to drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle, nor shall any such driver drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle:
(1) More than 11 cumulative hours following 10 consecutive hours off duty; or
(2) For any period after the end of the 14th hour after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty, except when a property-carrying driver complies with the provisions of § 395.1(o) or § 395.1(e)(2).
(b) No motor carrier shall permit or require a driver of a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle to drive, nor shall any driver drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle, regardless of the number of motor carriers using the driver's services, for any period after-
(1) Having been on duty 60 hours in any period of 7 consecutive days if the employing motor carrier does not operate commercial motor vehicles every day of the week; or
(2) Having been on duty 70 hours in any period of 8 consecutive days if the employing motor carrier operates commercial motor vehicles every day of the week.
FMCSR, 49 CFR § 395.8 Driver's record of duty status.
(a) Except for a private motor carrier of passengers (nonbusiness), every motor carrier shall require every driver used by the motor carrier to record his/her duty status for each 24 hour period using the methods prescribed [herein]....
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(e) Failure to complete the record of duty activities of this section or § 395.15, failure to preserve a record of such duty activities, or making of false reports in connection with such duty activities shall make the driver and/or the carrier liable to prosecution.
Violations of these provisions can constitute negligence and truck carriers can be held liable for violations the Act. Log books of a truck driver's hours on the road are often used to establish violations of the Act when driver fatigue is suspected as a cause of a truck accident.
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