Federal Trucking Regulations: Driver Fatigue & Truck Accidents

Driver Fatigue & Truck Accidents

When you sit behind the wheel of a large vehicle, you have a responsibility to yourself and to the other drivers on the road to safely operate your vehicle. Truck drivers in particular bear a heavy burden, for they are moving some of the largest and heaviest vehicles on the road. For this reason, it's imperative that they remain alert if you are driving a truck.

Unfortunately, due to the long hours and miles commercial truck drivers must log, it's no surprise that many of these drivers suffer from chronic fatigue. If you're a truck driver, you know how exhausting it can be to drive for hours as you press forward to finish your delivery.

To protect other drivers on the road, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has put in place certain regulations regarding trucking hours of operation. These regulations aim to keep overtired truck drivers off the road and apply specifically to commercial motor vehicles (CMVs).

A vehicle is considered a CMV if:

  • It weighs 10,001 lbs+
  • It is used to transport 9 people for capital gain
  • It is used to transport 16 or more people
  • It is used to move hazardous materials

How Long Can a Trucker Drive?

Different regulations are in place for the transportation of people versus property. When driving people, a truck driver can be actively driving for no more than 10 hours. If a driver is transporting property, then he or she can be driving for 11 hours. This law gets a little more complicated when you add in the 14-hour driving window limit. A truck driver can be "on driving duty" for 14 hours maximum, per day. Then, he or she must wait 10 hours before driving again.

These laws are meant to protect the driver, first and foremost. When tired, it is hard for a truck driver to focus on the road. Their mind is more likely to drift, as are their wheels. Their reaction time slows, and they increase the risk of accidentally nodding off in the middle of their route.

Were you hit by a truck driver who fell asleep on the road? Ask our Salisbury truck accident attorney to review your case and give you some guidance regarding the best next steps to take after your accident.