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Trucking: Being on the Road Too Long Takes Lives


Fatigue is a serious hazard for all vehicle operators. Being on the road for too long hampers a driver’s decision-making ability and physical capability, and impairs the alertness needed to operate a motor vehicle. If fatigue is extremely dangerous or deadly for drivers in control of passenger cars, the risks are exponentially worse when the driver is behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, fatalities in large truck accidents increased from 2009 through 2011. In 2011, more than 3,700 people were killed in truck collisions and 88,000 were injured. It’s no wonder that fatigue is recognized as one of several major factors in semi-truck accidents in the United States.

In a continuing effort to address the problem of fatigued truck drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reduced the hours of service (HOS) a truck driver is allowed to stay on the road in 2011. By July 1 of this year, truck drivers and companies must comply with multiple rule changes:

  • The seven-day work week for a trucker is now limited to 72 hours. The former limit was 82 hours.
  • After driving eight hours, a truck operator may not continue to drive without taking a minimum 30-minute break.

While the rule change reduced the number of hours a truck driver can be on the road during a week, it did not change the number of hours a truck can be operated during a day. The current 11-hour daily driving limit remains, though FMSCA studies are currently underway regarding this limit.

Steer clear of big rigs if you are sharing the road with them. If you have been injured in a truck accident, contact Stipe Law Firm for experienced legal help.