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Reviewing truck driver hours-of-service regulations

On Behalf of | Jan 19, 2018 | truck accidents

The truck drivers constantly ferrying goods in and out of Springfield often spend consecutive periods of long hours behind the wheel. This can inevitably contribute to fatigue. Given how dangerous fatigued drivers can be when operating standard vehicles, one can only imagine how much more damage they can cause when driving a semi-truck or tractor-trailer. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that a fully loaded tractor-trailer requires 20-40 percent more roadway than a traditional vehicle to stop. Picturing a drowsy truck driver trying to do so after realizing that he or she is getting too close to another vehicle should serve as evidence of the need to limit trucker working hours.

Commercial carriers face a conundrum when doing this, however. Their duty to protect their drivers (along with others) on the road may be at odds with their desires to pursue a healthy bottom line. Thus, the federal government has taken that task out of their hands and assigned universal hours-of-service regulations for truck drivers. These include limiting the amount hours a trucker can put in during the work week. According to information shared by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a truck driver’s work week cannot exceed 60/70 hours over a period of 7/8 consecutive days. For a work week to restart, a trucker must take 34 consecutive hours off duty.

Furthermore, federal regulations place the following individual shift restrictions on truck drivers:

  • They may only drive for up to 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty
  • They may not drive after the 14th hour of coming back on to duty
  • They may not drive more than eight hours consecutively without taking a rest period of at least 30 minutes

These accident prevention regulations apply specifically to truckers transporting private and commercial property.