Because of the dangers of trucking accidents, federal trucking regulations are in place to promote public safety. The legal system also seeks to protect and assist victims who have been harmed in a trucking accident. According to federal trucking regulations provided by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truck drivers are limited by the hours of service they can drive during a specified period of time in an effort to reduce the occurrence of driver fatigue. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), “Long daily and weekly hours are associated with an increased risk of crashes . . . .”
Truck drivers hauling property, such as semi-truck drivers, are permitted to drive a maximum of 11 hours following 10 consecutive hours off duty. In addition, drivers are not permitted to drive greater than 60 to 70 hours on duty following 7 to 8 consecutive days off. A 7 to 8 consecutive-days period can be restarted following 34, or greater, consecutive hours off duty. Additional limits may also apply.
Drivers are also required to adhere to rest break regulations. Drivers are only permitted to drive if 8, or fewer, hours have passed since the end of the driver’s most recent off-duty “sleeper berth period” that is, at a minimum, 30 minutes long. Drivers utilizing the sleeper berth requirement provision are required to take, at a minimum, 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper birth, as well as adhere to additional rest requirements.
The Hours of Service (HOS) rules apply to drivers driving vehicles that are used as part of a business, are involved in interstate commerce and meet certain weight or passenger number requirements or are transporting certain hazardous materials in certain quantities. Federal trucking regulations exist to protect members of the public who may be unexpectedly harmed by a driver experiencing truck driver fatigue or who may be distracted while driving or speeding due to certain conditions in the trucking industry. A trucking log is oftentimes used to help ensure drivers adhere to federal trucking regulations.
Harm caused by trucking accidents can be significant. In some circumstances, the violation of some type of law may serve as evidence of a party’s negligence which can be useful for victims facing physical, financial and emotional damages because of the negligence of a truck driver or trucking company.
Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “Summary of Hours of Service Regulations,” Accessed Jan. 4, 2015