The massive semi-trucks and tractor-trailers that people see driving in and around New Haven can seem intimidating. Fortunately, the drivers who operate them train extensively on how to do so safely.
Yet truck drivers are like everyone else on the road and thus are subject to the same challenges that come when one is behind the wheel. One of these is fatigue. Given how impairing that state can be to the average driver, one can only imagine how dangerous a semi-truck controlled by a drowsy driver can be.
Avoiding truck driver fatigue
Spending long hours behind the wheel is naturally taxing, making truck drivers especially susceptible to the effects of fatigue. To help keep them from becoming drowsy, federal lawmakers have established strict hours-of-service regulations to limit the amount of time they have to spend behind the wheel. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, these regulations are as follows:
- A truck driver can only drive for a maximum of 11 hours after first having taken 10 consecutive hours off duty
- A truck driver cannot drive past the 14th hour after having taken 10 consecutive hours off duty (driving breaks do not extend the 14-hour working period)
- A truck driver may not drive for more than eight hours without taking a break of at least 30 minutes
- A truck driver may not work more than 60-70 hours within a 7-8 day period (a break of 34 consecutive works off duty restarts the work week)
Proving fatigue was a factor in an accident
One may question the oversight of such regulations. For example, it may not be clear what keeps a truck driver from trying to work extra hours in order to make more money or impress an employer.
The law requires that truck drivers document their on-duty/off-duty times and maintain those in a log in their vehicles. A quick review of those records may indeed reveal whether the driver was adhering to the law. Falsifying such records may not only open truck drivers up to liability for an accident but also could leave them facing criminal penalties.