Truck drivers are trained to drive safely, and statistics show that, per mile traveled, they get into fewer accidents than other drivers. Still, when they do get into accidents with other vehicles, those crashes are much more likely to lead to serious injury or death.
There’s a relatively simple scientific reason for this: It’s about mass. Tractor-trailers are so much larger and heavier than passenger cars that any collision between the two types of vehicles can easily lead to severe injury or death for the occupants of the smaller vehicle.
With this in mind, state and federal regulators have tried various ways to improve safety. One of the most important such measures was the development of hours of service regulations.
How long can a driver safely go without rest?
Trucking companies stay competitive by delivering more goods to more locations at greater speeds. They have a clear financial incentive to make their drivers stay behind the wheel for long hours over vast distances. This can lead to drivers who are too tired to do their jobs safely.
Driver fatigue is a serious problem, and not just for professional truck drivers. Study after study has shown that drivers who have gone without adequate rest have slower response times and worse judgment than well-rested drivers.
Federal regulators have aimed to reduce driver fatigue among truck drivers by imposing limits on how long truckers can stay on the road without rest.
Those of us who share the roads with these truckers are no doubt grateful that these regulations exist. Still, a closer look at these regulations reveals that the maximum allowable times behind the wheel are quite high.
Under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s rules, the limit on how long a trucker can drive is 11 hours after they have had a 10-hour period off-duty. They must take a break of at least 30 minutes every eight hours.
If they judiciously space out their breaks, truckers can actually stretch out their day to 14 hours. Any driver might feel a little bleary-eyed after a day like that.
Justice after a truck accident
Because truck accidents can lead to serious injury, the damages in these cases can be extremely high. It’s important for the injured and their families to maximize the compensation they receive so that they can have the resources they need to cope with the many consequences of a life-altering accident.