A recent confidential survey of commercial truck drivers reports that 77 percent admitted to deliberately violating the hours of service regulations in the past, and that 55 percent said they were still breaking the rules.  Drivers report that the most common violation is logging time as off-duty when actually on-duty (78 percent). Other common violations included using more than one logbook (21 percent), logging violations correctly in hopes that they will not be noticed (17 percent), and indicating that a team driver is operating the vehicle when they really are not (11 percent). Respondents report an average of six days per month of intentional violations and five days per month of unintentional violations.Nearly 17 percent of the respondents felt it necessary to violate the HOS rules in order to earn a reasonable income, while 38 percent strongly disagreed with that assumption. Thirty-eight percent said that their company expects them to violate the regulations as part of their job. Some 68 percent thought that law enforcement officers do not know how to relate to commercial motor vehicle drivers. Among the reporting drivers, 11.2 hours was the average estimate given for the reduction in driving hours over seven days if logbooks couldn’t be "adjusted."

The survey does not report, however, the extent to which these violations are due to pressure from trucking companies and shippers who insist that drivers fulfill legally impossible delivery schedules.  I have talked with many hard working truck drivers who have told me stories of trucking companies letting them know that if they didn’t make deliveries on an impossible schedule, the company would find a driver who would. They have told of shippers releasing loads many hours late, but insisting that the drivers get to destinations at times that could not be done without grossly violating the hours of service and fatigue regulations. I think most truck drivers are just working guys struggling to make a living in a tough business while under tremendous pressure to do the legally and physically impossible.

Of course, when the inevitable happens, the trucking company claims it had no idea a "rogue driver" was driving twice the number of hours legally permitted, even though the company could clearly see the trips for which the driver was dispatched and the time required to complete those trips.  Often trucking companies are willfully and deliberately blind to the effect of the orders they give the drivers until a tragedy occurs, and then they blame the driver who was following orders. And, if a truck driver, tries to blow the whistle on such practices, he may be blackballed in the trucking industry.

The Shigley Law Firm  represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia, and in other states subject to the multijurisdictional practice and pro hac vice rules in each state. Ken Shigley was designated as a "SuperLawyer" in Atlanta Magazine and one of the "Legal Elite" in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks.