Oregon Ranked #1 In United States for “Hours of Service” Enforcement
A tremendous volume of interstate commerce occurs daily, thanks to the efforts of hard-working truck drivers who crisscross the nation hauling both consumer and commercial goods. No doubt, segments of society would grind to a halt without these efforts, which should be appreciated by everyone. Unfortunately, sometimes trucking companies and their drivers, whether intentionally or negligently, cause accidents that result in catastrophic injury and property damage. As a result, the law has evolved with two rationales in mind: one, to increase and enforce safety, which proactively protects Americans from injury in the first instance; and two, to compensate victims and make them whole for their losses. Both of these rationales spring from the concept that society benefits when those who cause harm are held accountable for their actions.
Regulation to Protect Our Roadways
Both Oregon and the United States pass laws and regulations designed to make our roads safer. Because so many tractor-trailer trucks use the roadways, and because their crashes can cause such devastating damage and injury, the federal government intensely regulates interstate trucking companies and their drivers. For example, trucks must be in compliance with numerous specific mechanical rules. Trailers and their cargoes must comply with weight requirements. Tractor-trailer truck drivers must be properly licensed and must satisfy health-related prerequisites. In addition, tractor-trailer truck drivers must comply with “hours of service” restrictions, which will be discussed in greater detail below.
What are “Hours of Service” Restrictions, and Why are They Important?
The law uses “hours of service” restrictions to place limits on the number of hours that interstate truck drivers are permitted to drive. The primary reason these rules have been developed is to limit the chances that fatigued drivers will be on the road, thereby decreasing the chance of human driving error. The rules can sometimes be complicated, and there are some exceptions. Therefore, if you have specific questions, please give us a call. Here, we will provide a few of the basics, without considering the exceptions.
- The 14-hour window – a commercial interstate truck driver can work for 14 consecutive hours, during which he can drive for 11 hours. Thereafter, the driver cannot drive again until spending at least 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- Required rest breaks – truck drivers, even during the times they are permitted to drive, are sometimes required to take rest breaks. After the passage of 8 consecutive hours since the driver was last off duty, the driver must take a 30-minute rest break.
- Weekly limits – the law also places maximum limits on the number of hours that drivers can drive during a 7 or 8-day period.
Importantly, the law also requires truck drivers to maintain logs to document the hours during which they drive and rest. Anyone involved in an accident with a large truck should review these logs to ensure the driver complied with applicable regulations.
Oregon Enforcement of Hours of Service Regulations
According to Overdrive online, a trucking industry publication, Oregon issued hours of service violations at a higher percentage rate of total violations than any other state, totaling just under 25 percent of all violations. As we have discussed in the past, truck driver fatigue is often cited as a cause for truck crashes. Oregon’s enforcement efforts clearly seek to address this issue and maintain the safety of our roadways.
Call Us with Your Questions
At Nelson MacNeil Rayfield, we understand that trucking laws and regulations can be complicated. Moreover, if you have been involved in an accident with a large truck, the trucking company is unlikely to voluntarily provide you with the truck driver’s logs and other information, which may be essential to analyze the driver’s compliance with hours of service and other regulations. Our lawyers have experience conducting such investigations. Please call us with any questions, or for a free consultation.