18-wheelers can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when carrying cargo; that is roughly five times the weight of an average passenger vehicle. Without an alert driver, a truck is like a ticking time-bomb on the highway, and there is no limit to the catastrophic damage that can occur. 

Federal Hours of Service Regulations 

The government attempts to ensure that truck drivers are not overworked, and that they get enough rest to remain alert and drive safely, by requiring that truck drivers adhere to Federal Hours of Service (FOS) regulations. However, truck drivers are often pressured by their employers to work longer hours to meet tight deadlines and save money. Drivers may also accept additional jobs or shifts in an attempt to earn more money, sacrificing rest. 

Truck drivers are legally required to adhere to the following FOS guidelines:

  • Truck drivers may be on-duty for a maximum of 14 consecutive hours, and, of these 14 hours, they can drive for a maximum of 11 hours. Note that any additional rest time taken during the 14-hour on-duty period cannot be used to extend the 14-hour window. 
  • Truck drivers must rest for a minimum of 10 consecutive hours between shifts. 
  • In addition to daily limits, truck drivers must not exceed a weekly limit of 60 on-duty hours in 70 consecutive days, or 70 on-duty hours over eight consecutive days. Truck drivers may effectively “reset” their week by taking at least 34 consecutive off-duty hours. 

If a truck driver fails to adhere to these regulations, and is involved in a collision, it can provide proof of negligence. Additionally, if they received pressure from their trucking company or cargo distributor, they may also be added as parties to a personal injury lawsuit. 

Fatigue Impairs Driving as Much as Alcohol 

Driver fatigue is a serious and deadly issue. Studies have shown that being deprived of sleep for 17 hours resulted in the same level of alertness as an individual with a blood alcohol level concentration of .05. The FOS regulations exist to ensure that drivers of these massive vehicles are alert enough to drive them safely. Even when driver fatigue does not result in the driver falling asleep, it can significantly impair their performance and decrease their reaction time. Trucks take much longer to come to a complete stop than passenger vehicles. Often cargo suppliers will overload the trucks in order to save money. This can cause an even longer break time than usual, which the driver may not even be aware of. The combination of an overloaded truck, delayed reaction time, and an impossibly long breaking-time, can be fatal. 

Schedule a Consultation 

If you have been injured in an 18-wheeler crash in San Antonio due to driver negligence or fatigue, we want to help you get the compensation you deserve. Schedule a free consultation with the Law Firm of Eric Ramos, PLLC. We will review the specific facts and circumstances of your unique case, and determine the best course of action to help you get the justice and compensation that you deserve. Book your consultation today.