Driving is an immense responsibility, and all of us who drive are required to adhere to the safety rules of the road to help keep them safer for everyone. Commercial drivers who man big rigs, however, are held to even more exacting safety standards for many important reasons. Commercial trucks are many, many times the size and weight of the vehicles we drive, and this size differential alone makes truck accidents exceptionally dangerous.
The Nature of the Trucking Business
The trucking industry is barreling ahead at breakneck speeds. Our bustling economy is driven by consumerism, and the trucking industry delivers. The fact is that we are purchasing more and more items online, and we are having them delivered directly to our front doors. The booming trucking industry makes this magic happen, but trucking companies sometimes put profits before safety. In other words, some trucking companies are not averse to cutting safety corners and overextending their truck drivers to keep up with high demand. This policy jeopardizes the safety of everyone on our highways and byways.
Hours of Service Restrictions
Truck drivers are professional drivers, and federal and state laws reflect the immense danger inherent to truck accidents and impose exacting safety regulations as a result. One important area of these laws is the Hours of Service restrictions. These federal laws include:
- Before beginning a shift, a trucker must have had at least 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- After 10 hours of being off duty, a trucker can be on duty for no more than 14 consecutive hours.
- Being on duty includes loading, unloading, logging, and doing everything else associated with being a truck driver.
- During a 14-hour shift, a trucker may only be behind the wheel for a total of 11 hours.
- For every 8 consecutive hours of driving, truckers must take a 30-minute break.
- A trucker may not log more than 60 hours over a 7-day period and not more than 70 hours over an 8-day period, and the period may not be restarted until the trucker has had at least 34 hours off duty.
- Truckers must keep careful logs of their driving activity.
A trucker who has driven beyond these restrictions and who is involved in an accident can be found negligent.
In addition to regulations regarding hours behind the wheel, there are also strict regulations related to a truck’s weight. An overloaded truck or a truck that is not loaded properly can make a truck accident that much more dangerous or can actually cause an accident.