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Federal trucking regulations addressing driver fatigue

As a previous post highlighted, a fatigued truck driver can be a very dangerous presence on roadways in Pennsylvania. These drivers not only drive long hours and long distances, but they also operate extremely large vehicles that do not maneuver and stop the same way smaller vehicles do. Therefore, when a driver is fatigued, falls asleep behind the wheel or is inattentive, this could result in a serious or even fatal truck accident.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, federal trucking regulations have been passed and enforced as a means to increase safety for truck drivers and those sharing the road with them. One area of concern is hour of service. Regulating how many hours a truck driver can drive at a given time, the number of hours they can work in a week and how often a truck driver must take a break seeks to reduce the chances of truck driver fatigue.

Currently, federal trucking regulations require those drivers using the 34-hour restart provision to use it only once every 168 hours. And if a driver is using that provision, the 34-hour restart period must include two periods that include 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. The maximum daily driving limit is 11 hours, and it is required that a truck driver takes at least one 30 minute break every 8 hours.

Because it is determined that long daily and weekly driving schedules are associated with the increased risk of crashes related to the lack of sleep, regulated hours of service help reduce driver fatigue. While these regulations seek to address truck driver fatigue, such a condition could still be the result of a truck crash. Therefore, it is important to understand the cause of the crash following a truck accident. If a truck driver is not complying with federal trucking regulations, such as hours of service, he or she could be liable for the injuries and damages caused by the accident.

Source: Cms.fmcsa.dot.gov, "Hours of Service of Drivers," accessed July 10, 2016

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