In Virginia, where 10 percent of all crash fatalities are due to accidents involving large trucks, there is much talk about long hours-of-service and truck drivers falling asleep behind the wheel.
Why would a driver get back into his truck for another five-hour long haul after just having a quick dinner and feeling exhausted from four long days on the road and three short nights in his sleeper berth?
The short answer is that truck drivers are not paid like you and me.
Their profession is a lonely one. When they stop, they only meet strangers. Semi-trailer drivers want to get back home, where they can
be with their families and friends. Above all, they want to return with decent money, and this is why they are constantly under pressure.
The overwhelming majority of interstate, full-load carriers pay their drivers by the mile, whereas most (62.5 percent) of the short-haul carriers pay by the hour. Whereas the pay-per-mile method might seem to be a fair system, it has many inconvenient consequences:
- Truck drivers never know if there will be another haul waiting for them. This means that they will take whatever is offered, regardless of the risks of working longer than reasonable.
- Motor carriers don't pay overtime or compensation for long hours of work, but they will still pressure the driver to deliver the goods on time.
- The driver, not the motor carrier, is paying the cost of long waiting times and delays due to congested roads, mechanical problems, or slow loading-unloading operations.
- Finally, the truck driver paid by the mile will not only drive longer, but also faster.
What are hours-of-service regulations for?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration service time and rest period regulations governing the trucking industry are supposed to keep truck drivers and their employers in check. However, the rules are based on the antiquated system of paper and carbon copy log books that drivers use to record the details of their activities, mileage, and position. Log books are easily tampered with and falsified, and some drivers and motor carriers have become experts at circumventing the hours-of-service rule enforcements, motivated not just by the pay system, but also by the chronic shortage of qualified truck drivers.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a Virginia truck crash, please contact our Warrenton or Culpeper office today. You can discuss your accident case with one of our skilled, dedicated attorneys to see how we can help you secure fair compensation.