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Truck driver hours of service regulations: an overview

The problem of truck driver fatigue is one that has caused deaths, injuries, and property damage for as long as commercial vehicles have existed. The problem serious enough in every state, including Connecticut, that the federal government has exercised its regulatory authority in an attempt to reduce the problem of accidents caused by drowsy truck drivers.

The point agency of the government's regulatory effort is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Its most recent work with regard to truck driver fatigue has been to establish rules governing the number of hours during which a commercial truck driver can operate his vehicle during an average week of work. 

Currently, drivers of commercial vehicles -- which the FMCSA defines as vehicles weighing five tons or more, or which are used to transport certain numbers of passengers or to move hazardous materials -- can drive for an average of no more than 11 hours per day, or not more than 70 hours in a week before drivers must have at least 34 consecutive hours of rest, which must also include two nights of rest between the hours of 1:00 to 5:00 in the morning.

The existence of rules requiring rest does not mean, however, that all trucking companies or truck drivers will always comply with those rules. Violations of rest requirements will mean that two things will continue to happen: truck accidents traceable to driver fatigue, and the ability of plaintiffs' attorneys to use those violations as evidence when negotiating personal injury settlements or in personal injury lawsuits.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of an accident with a commercial vehicle in which you believe that drowsiness on the part of the truck driver may have played a role, a Connecticut personal injury attorney familiar with relevant trucking regulations and how to uncover whether they were complied with can be an important ally in securing the best possible recovery.

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