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Truck safety and the federal hours of service rules

Truck safety is an important concern when it comes to improving highway safety. Because of their size and the weight they carry, semi-tractor trailers and other commercial vehicles present a serious risk of causing harm or death other motorists when they are involved in accidents.

One particular area where truck needs continual monitoring and improvement is driver fatigue. Long hours on the road and inadequate rest can make truck drivers a roadway accident waiting to happen. Driver fatigue has long been known to be a problem among truck drivers, and federal regulations are in place to help ensure that truckers get enough rest. These federal regulations are known as the hours of service rules. 

The hours of service rules apply to commercial vehicle drivers whose vehicles meet certain requirements. On its website, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration provides a brief summary of these rules. Slightly different rules apply to property-carrying drivers and passenger-carrying drivers. For the former, the rules include the following:

  • An 11 hour daily driving limit following 10 consecutive hours off duty
  • Prohibition on all driving after 14 hours on duty
  • Required rest breaks of at least 30 minutes every eight hours
  • Weekly driving limit of 60/70 hours in 7/8 consecutive day—the work week can be restarted by taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty

All truckers are required to record their compliance with these rules and submit to inspections as necessary. Failure to abide by the rules can result in penalties for drivers and their employers, and can possibly be used as evidence of negligence in personal injury or wrongful death litigation.

In our next post, we’ll say a bit more about federal safety regulations and their potential importance for truck accident victims

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