Driver fatigue among truck drivers is a real problem. That is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has imposed strict regulations about how often a driver can be on the road, and for long he or she may drive each day. If the FMCSA tells you to stop driving, you have to know it’s with good reason, and that you should get off the road.
But one New Mexico truck driver continued to drive even after he was given an order by the FMCSA to stop. Then, on June 13, 2018, Evaristo Mora “was driving in a work zone on U.S. 54 in Pratt County, Kansas, when his vehicle veered into a lane of oncoming traffic, colliding head-on with another tractor-trailer. The driver of the other vehicle was killed, as was a passenger in Mora’s truck cab,” per Overdrive.
The FMCSA now asserts that Mr. Mora not only violated the original order, causing two deaths, but that he recklessly violated the FMCSA laws on driving while fatigued.
The story behind the out-of-service order
The original FMCSA order to cease driving was issued due to multiple safety problems, “including defective brakes and overly worn tires,” in addition to violating the hours of service regulations. The FMCSA concluded, after an investigation of his GPS systems, that Mora had been driving for at least 38 hours during the 45 hours prior to the crash. Mr. Mora, according to the FMCSA, deactivated the electronic trip logging device that trucks are required to have.
The fatal truck crash occurred five hours after Mr. Mora had been told he was out-of-service for the next 10 hours.
Mr. Mora is now likely to face two wrongful death actions by the families of the drivers that were killed. He has also been charged with involuntary manslaughter. If the trucking company that hired Mr. Mora failed to monitor his driving and failed to inspect their truck, the trucking company will likely face multiple lawsuits as well.
The FMCSA regulations on truck-driver fatigue
The FMCSA has enacted several rules to regulate how often truck drivers should rest and how often they should sleep. Drivers shouldn’t operate their commercial truck if they are ill or fatigued. These hours of service rules include:
- Consecutive work duty. Drivers who work for 14 consecutive hours (driving, unloading, loading, or any type of work) cannot drive until they have been off-duty for at least 10 hours in a row. The 14-hour rule applies even if the driver teaks breaks during the day.
- 11-hour maximum driving limit. During the up to 14-hour work day, a truck driver can only spend up to 11 hours driving. If he/she drives 11 hours (even if they don’t do other work), they still must stop driving for at least 10 hours
- 60 hours/70 ours limit. Generally, truck drivers shouldn’t drive more than 60 hours during any seven day-cycle. The limit may be extended, on certain conditions, to driving up to 70 hours within an 8 day-cycle.
Trucking companies should routinely inspect their vehicles before the driver starts a new trip. It also helps if cargo is properly secured. Most trucks are also required to have electronic logging devices that measure mileage, time in use, and many other driving statistics.
The legal team at the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm are experienced, highly-respected truck accident lawyers. We understand the federal, Tennessee, and local truck driving laws. We also work with trucking professionals who understand common truck safety standards. To speak with a truck accident lawyer form our firm, please call us at 615-425-2500 or fill out our contact form. Our offices are located in Nashville, Hendersonville, and Clarksville, and we represent accident victims throughout Tennessee.
Nashville personal injury attorney Rocky McElhaney is a well-known and respected lawyer as well as published author, helping Tennesseans through difficult times since the turn of the century. Rocky builds friendships with his clients, not just professional relationships. Rocky McElhaney is a Super Lawyer, AV Rated by Martindale Hubbell, has been named a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association and has been awarded Best Lawyer in Nashville by the Nashville Scene Readers’ Poll
The Rocky McElhaney Law Firm represents people who have been injured by car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, negligent premises owners, defective products and many other forms of negligence throughout the state of Tennessee. The firm also represents clients in the areas of workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability claims.