Although we share the roads with them every day, truck drivers are not treated the same as other motorists under federal law. Because 18-wheelers and other large trucks have the potential to cause catastrophic injuries in the event of an accident, all truck drivers must abide by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations. Many FMCSA regulations set restrictions on working hours for truck drivers to prevent them from driving while fatigued.
Why Is Fatigued Driving So Dangerous?
Driving while you’re tired can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When you become tired, you suffer from a slower reaction time, decreased awareness, and impaired judgment. For truck drivers, these effects could cause catastrophic accidents. However, unlike driving under the influence, there is no objective test to determine sleepiness.
FMCSA Working Hour Regulations
To help prevent truck accidents caused by driver fatigue, FMCSA sets strict continuous working hour regulations. These working hour regulations include:
• Maximum of 11 continuous hours driving
• Maximum 14 hour work day (including breaks and other non-driving tasks)
• Drivers must take a 30 minute break every 8 hours
• Drivers can work no more than 60 hours in a seven day work week or 70 hours in an eight day work week
• Drivers must take 34 consecutive off duty hours before beginning a new week
Truck driver fatigue is the cause of 13% of all truck accidents. Despite hefty fines from the FMCSA, some truck drivers choose to ignore working hour regulations and put other motorists at risk.
Why Are Working Hour Regulations Sometimes Ignored?
Truck drivers often work with tight deadlines. Sometimes, in an effort to get a job completed as quickly and economically as possible, drivers choose to drive longer than permitted by federal law. Doing so is careless, and drivers caught violating the law will pay thousands of dollars in fines. If a fatigued driver causes a trucking accident, he or she can also be held responsible in a personal injury lawsuit.