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Federal Laws About Fatigued Truck Drivers

By admin on July 13, 2016

Each year, millions of drivers traverse America’s roadways. Unfortunately, more than 30,000 of these individuals lose their lives in tragic and preventable accidents. Many of these vehicular accidents involve trucks, such as tractor trailers and semi-trucks. One of the leading causes of truck accidents is driver fatigue. Truck drivers who are required to make long cross-country trips to deliver goods are often paid based on how fast they can reach their destinations. This leads to an incentive for drivers to sleep as little as possible in order to maximize time spent on the road. Humans need sleep, and drivers who operate on little to no sleep are prone to making mistakes and falling asleep behind the wheel.

In order to combat truck driver fatigue, in 2011, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued an “hours of service” rule applicable to all truck drivers. The requirements of this new rule vary depending on whether the truck is carrying property or passengers. (Federal regulations change over time, so truck drivers viewing this information should consult current “hours of service” regulations for guidance before driving).

Hours of Service Rules for Property-Carrying Trucks

The following rules apply to all drivers of trucks that are transporting property:

• Drivers may not drive more than eleven hours after ten consecutive hours of being off-duty.
• Drivers may not drive after being on-duty for fourteen hours straight.
• After finishing the eleven or fourteen-hour on-duty period, the truck driver then has to take a ten-hour break from driving.
• A driver may not drive more than sixty hours in seven consecutive days.
• A driver may not drive after being on-duty for more than seventy hours in eight consecutive days.

The rules differentiate between driving and non-driving work. Many drivers spend time loading, unloading, weighing cargo, and performing administrative tasks. Therefore, the eleven-hour rule focuses only on straight driving, whereas the fourteen-hour rule focuses on driving and non-driving work.

Hours of Service Rules for Passenger-Carrying Vehicles

The following rules apply to all drivers who transport people:

• Drivers may not drive more than ten hours after eight consecutive hours of being off-duty.
• Drivers may not drive after being on-duty for fifteen hours straight.
• Drivers may not drive more than sixty hours in seven consecutive days or seventy hours in eight consecutive days.

Again, the rules differentiate between driving and non-driving work. Thus, the ten-hour rule focuses on only straight driving, whereas the fifteen-hour rule focuses on driving and non-driving work

Seek Compensation with the Aid of Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC

Each year, fatigued truck drivers cause thousands of deadly crashes. If you or a loved one has fallen victim to a truck accident involving a tired or sleeping driver, you have options. Call Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC to discuss your case. We represent Chicago-area trucking accident victims against the largest trucking and insurance companies. Our top-rated Illinois personal injury attorneys can help you pursue damages and get your life back on track. Call us today for a free consultation at (800) 996-4824.

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