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How Long Can Truck Drivers Be Behind the Wheel?

Most Kansas City drivers know that driving for too long, or driving while sleepy, can prove dangerous. Those who operate commercial vehicles, such as large trucks and 18-wheelers, are required by federal trucking regulations to drive only for limited hours. Those who have found themselves the victim of a commercial vehicle accident may wonder what rules are in place to prevent dangerous truck driver fatigue.

First, there are various regulations – and exceptions to such rules – that state how long truck drivers can be behind the wheel. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a driver must have 10 consecutive hours off-duty before starting their shift. In addition, a driver can only drive for 11 hours in a row; those 11 hours must be within a 14-hour period which can take place only after the 10-hour off-duty period. Moreover, with some exceptions, most drivers are not allowed to continue driving if more than 8 hours have elapsed since their last rest period of least half an hour.

The above rules, which are only a fraction of the regulations affecting truck drivers’ hours of service, apply to vehicles carrying property. An 18-wheeler accident with a property-hauling truck can be catastrophic for its victims, which is why the government has issued so many regulations on drivers’ hours. While without these rules safety would undoubtedly be threatened, there are still many truck accidents that claim the lives of others on the road. Truck drivers may continue driving in violation of federal regulations or truck companies might encourage their workers to drive beyond their limits or falsify trucking logs. In any case, a damaging collision may result from drivers spending too much time behind the wheel.

In the event of a commercial vehicle accident, a victim may have good reason to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against a driver, a truck company or both. A Kansas City truck accident law firm can be a comprehensive resource for those who have been negatively impacted by truck driver fatigue.

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “Part 395 HOURS OF SERVICE OF DRIVERS,” accessed May 10, 2015