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Truck accidents: how many hours can truckers drive?

Commercial vehicle accident prevention is a worthy cause. Texans who have ever witnessed or survived a tractor-trailer accident — even a minor one — can tell you just how damaging they can be. Passengers in the other vehicles often suffer severe injuries or even fatalities.

What is probably the most common reason for truck accidents? Drowsiness. That is why the federal government has laws in place to limit the number of hours that truck drivers can drive without rest.

If you have been injured by a commercial truck driver who fell asleep at the wheel, how do you know if he was abiding by the hours of service regulations? Drivers of commercial vehicles must keep logs recording their driving time as proof that they are abiding by the Hours of Service regulations.

According to the federal HOS regulations, truckers can drive for 11 consecutive hours; however, they must take at least one 30-minute break within the first eight hours. After 11 hours of driving, they must be off-duty for at least 10 consecutive hours before driving again.

If a trucker is still on duty 14 hours after coming on duty, they may not drive past the 14th consecutive hour of duty, regardless of if they were off-duty during some of the 14 hours.

There are also regulations regarding "on duty." A truck driver may only be on duty 60/70 hours in a 7/8 day consecutive period. They must take a total of 34 consecutive hours or more off duty in between the next 7/8 day period. Beginning at the restart of the last period, the time must include two periods of the driver’s home terminal time between 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., which covers a one-week period, or 168 hours.

A truck driver’s daily log may be very important if a driver is involved in an accident where they are at fault and injuries or fatalities have occurred. The log could prove negligence of the driver if he or she failed to follow the above regulations, and they or the company are involved in a personal injury lawsuit following the accident.

Source: FMCSA, "Summary of Hours of Service Regulations" Sep. 25, 2014

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