Truck drivers are governed by federal and state laws regulating how long they can drive without rest breaks. Under federal guidelines, truckers are required to rest a certain number of hours when they are on the road. Failure to observe these rules can result in sleep-deprivation accidents, which can be deadly for both truckers and innocent passenger vehicle occupants. Therefore, it is very important that truck drivers obey these rules in order to keep the roads safe for everyone.
What Are The Rules About Trucker Rest Breaks?
The federal government has implemented rules about how many hours truckers can be on the road without a rest break. Essentially, these rules boil down to a few simple guidelines:
- Truck drivers of vehicles that weigh 10,001 pounds or more unloaded, or those that transport 16 or more passengers without compensation or nine or more passengers with compensation, as well as those that transport hazardous materials, are required to follow these regulations.
- Truck drivers are limited to no more than 70 hours of driving in any given week.
- Truck drivers must rest for 34 consecutive hours in a week including at least two nights from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.
- Truckers must take at least a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of driving.
What Happens When Truckers Do Not Follow The Rules?
If truck drivers do not follow the rules regarding rest periods, they may become sleep-deprived. Some studies have likened sleep deprivation to alcohol consumption, stating that a person who has been awake for 24 hours without sleep has the same response time as someone who is legally drunk.
If a truck driver does not comply with the required rest break guidelines, he or she puts others in danger. Truck accidents often seriously injure or kill the occupants of other vehicles; in fact, about three-quarters of all victims of fatal trucking crashes are not occupants of the truck but were riding in another vehicle or were a pedestrian or cyclist. Failure to observe rest breaks not only place the truck driver in danger but also everyone else on the road.
What About Those Who Have Been Injured in a Truck Accident?
In order to ensure that victims of trucking accidents are treated fairly, it is sometimes necessary to retain the services of a personal injury attorney.
The attorney who handles a truck accident case must be familiar with trucking rules and regulations. For example, truck drivers are required to keep a log of their hours spent on the road. An attorney who is not aware of this may miss important evidence that could support the client’s claim of negligence against the truck driver or trucking company. A personal injury attorney with experience in trucking accidents not only understands the basics of personal injury law but the specific facts about the trucking industry that should be addressed in any claim.
The truck accident attorneys at David & Philpot, P.L. are very familiar with the rules and regulations commercial trucking companies must adhere to. We understand how trucking companies and their insurance carriers defend semi-truck accident cases and we know what steps need to be taken to protect the rights of truck accident victims. If you have been involved in a semi-truck, 18 wheeler, or commercial truck accident, fill out our free case evaluation form or call us directly at 800.360.7015. We are here to help!