When truck accidents occur, perhaps one of the first things law enforcement will ask as part of their investigation into what occurred is to review the driver's logbook. This is especially the case in more serious types of incidents where another motorist may suffer either serious injuries or die.
In reviewing this log, it has the potential of shedding light on whether a trucker may have been fatigued at the time he or she was involved in the crash.
If a trucker's logbook is reviewed, law enforcement is likely looking to see if he or she complied with existing Hours of Service (HOS) regulations. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), these rules apply to select commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers who use the vehicle in the course of their employment to conduct interstate commerce.
Any CMV weighing at least 10,001 pounds, whether it's actually weighing that amount or is rated to carry it, must comply with HOS regulations. If a CMV carries at least nine passengers to include a driver for compensation or 16 for no pay, then either one is also subject to existing HOS regulations.
A driver operating a CMV carrying enough of a hazardous material that it requires the placement of placards on the vehicle also has to maintain HOS records.
HOS rules went into full effect on July 1, 2013. They were implemented in an effort to curb rates of truck crashes caused by driver drowsiness. The FMCSA notes that, contrary to popular belief, their studies showed that CMV operators were often ill-equipped to recognize their own drowsiness.
Under HOS laws, it restricts the time frames that truckers can operate their vehicles, how often breaks must be taken and how many hours and days the carrier can allow them to be on the road without mandatory down time at home. Despite these regulations being in existence, there are still many who attempt to violate them in hopes that they'll never be caught.
If you've been struck and injured by a suspected drowsy trucker, then a Los Lunas attorney can advise you how to go about gaining access to his or her logbook to see if Hours of Service regulations may have been violated.
Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, "Hours of service," accessed April 06, 2018