Truckers and Hours-of-Service Regulations
The trucking industry is extremely fast-paced. As trucking companies continue to struggle to keep up with consumer demand, some of these companies are not above cutting corners to increase their profits. Part of this can involve keeping their truck drivers behind the wheel longer than is legally allowed. The federal government has comprehensive hours-of-service regulations that are intended to prevent dangerously drowsy truckers from our highways and byways. The size and weight of these large vehicles nearly guarantee that any truck accidents that transpire will be hazardous – if not deadly.
You likely know how it feels to become fatigued after spending several hours behind the wheel of your car. You probably also recognize the inherent danger – and do what is necessary to get off the road. When the tired motorist in question, however, is navigating an 18-wheeler through traffic, things become that much more dangerous. This fact is why there are carefully constructed hours-of-service regulations on the books. When truck drivers or trucking companies take it upon themselves to drive outside these safety-parameters, it can lead to hazardous truck accidents.
Truckers spend many hours behind the wheel, but some also spend many, many days on the road. As such, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has carefully crafted rules and regulations related to when a truck driver is allowed to be behind the wheel, and when he or she is not. Consider all of the following:
A commercial truck driver may drive a maximum of 11 hours after taking a break of at least 10 consecutive hours.
After taking a break of at least 10 consecutive hours, a trucker may not continue driving beyond the 14th consecutive hour (amount of time off-duty does not extend this 14-consecutive-hours rule).
Truckers must take at least a 30-minute rest break for every 8 hours of driving.
Truck drivers may not drive beyond the 60/70-hour mark in a driving stint of 7/8 consecutive days. However, a trucker may restart the period of 7/8 consecutive days by going off duty for at least 34 straight hours.
It is a complicated set of rules because the issue is so important. The fact is that drowsy truck drivers are more likely to pay inadequate attention to the road ahead; to make impulsive, unsafe driving decisions; and even nod off behind the wheel.