If you’ve ever been driving along a Georgia highway when a tractor-trailer came barreling up behind you or suddenly cut in to merge in front of you on the road, you understand how frightening such moments can be. Especially if you’re in a smaller-sized vehicle at the time, a massive big rig that is getting too close for comfort can turn an otherwise uneventful road trip into a highly stressful, even dangerous, experience.
Unless you have a specific background as a tractor-trailer driver, you might not be aware that there are stringent regulations to govern operation of such vehicles, including but not limited to the number of hours a commercial carrier driver may stay behind the wheel without pulling off to rest.
Hours of service regulations for tractor-trailer drivers in Georgia
If a tractor-trailer driver has been on the road for 11 consecutive hours, he or she must pull over. Even if a driver has not yet reached his or her destination, Hours of Service rules require a rest after 11 hours of driving. In fact, a driver must stay off the road and rest for 10 consecutive hours before getting behind the wheel again after driving for 11 hours.
There are exceptions that apply that would make it lawful to operate a big rig for 14 or 16 hours. Separate rules are in place to govern passenger-carrying operations, as well as truck drivers who also happen to be employed outside of their truck-driving duties. As a motorist sharing the road with tractor-trailers, you have no way of knowing if a particular driver has obeyed Hours of Service rules or has cheated on a timesheet, which, unfortunately, some drivers often do.
Gas receipts and GPS help catch drivers who disregard Hours of Service rules
If a tractor-trailer causes a collision that results in injury to you or your loved one, investigators will want to know if driver negligence was a factor. Whether the driver in question was in compliance with Hours of Service rules would also be a primary concern. Employers often use a driver’s fuel receipts and GPS to determine if he or she stayed behind the wheel too long or started driving again too soon after a regulated rest.
Truck accidents often result in life-threatening injuries
Many truck accidents are fatal, particularly to the occupants inside the vehicles that hit by such massive vehicles. If you, your spouse or your child survive a tractor-trailer collision, the injuries that occur may be severe, perhaps necessitating surgery or specialized medical care in the aftermath of the accident. There is also often severe emotional trauma associated with such incidents.
Truck drivers and their employers have an obligation to adhere to all traffic laws and safety regulations, including Hours of Service rules. If a driver’s negligence causes another person to suffer injury, the recovering victim may seek restitution in court.