Orleans Parish motorists may have seen big trucks on the road and wondered whether these truck drivers are all fit to drive these large vehicles. Driver fatigue is a big problem for drivers of all vehicles, especially truck drivers that often travel long distances and drive long hours. Due to their bigger size and mass, trucks can wreak havoc on the roads if their drivers are too tired to drive and they lose control of their vehicle. What does the government do to make sure truck drivers are not too tired to drive?

The federal government has established hours of service regulations that apply to the drivers of commercial vehicles. For drivers hauling property and no passengers, they may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. If the driver alternates between driving and not driving after the end of the 10-hour rest period, the driver may not drive past the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty from the 10-hour rest period. Long-haul drivers must take a 30-minute break if eight hours have elapsed since their last break.

The government recognizes that a week or more of this schedule could result in a fatigued truck driver even if the above requirements are adhered to scrupulously. Therefore, truck drivers are not allowed to drive after 60 hours of duty in seven consecutive days or 70 hours of duty in eight consecutive days. They must take at least 34 hours off before they can begin another seven or eight-day period.

Drivers must notate their on-duty and off-duty hours in a truck driver log kept in their cabs. This log is subject to inspection by government officials to make sure the driver is adhering to the requirements. The log could also become evidence in a truck accident lawsuit.

Following a truck crash, those harmed in the incident should understand whether the truck driver was adhering to federal trucking regulations. If a fatigued truck driver caused a collision, that driver could be held responsible for the injuries and damages caused by the accident.

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “Summary of Hours of Service Regulations,” accessed on Feb. 6, 2016