June 4, 2015

Like any other industry, the commercial tractor-trailer freight hauling business can often be very competitive. Many truck companies, both here in Pennsylvania and throughout the country, struggle to keep their costs down while also turning a profits. Unfortunately, time equals money in the freight hauling business. This is especially true for tractor-trailers that haul perishable goods over long distances. It’s not uncommon for many of these drivers to feel pressured to work long hours and drive fast in order to make speedy deliveries.

The federal watchdog tasked with promulgating safety within the trucking industry is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The FMCSA has long known about the dangers of drivers becoming overly fatigued due to long hours. For that reason, federal regulations now exist that attempt to limit driver fatigue in several ways. Here are some of the more important aspects of those rules:

— 14-hour day maximum when also driving. We often assume that a truck driver is only working when they are behind the wheel. Not so. For example, a freight hauler may need to re-secure their loads or perform other maintenance duties. However, the FMCSA puts a cap on a truck drivers total daily work hours at 14 consecutive hours. It’s important to know that this can only occur if the driver has previously been off-duty for at least 10 consecutive hours.

— Rest breaks. Although there are some exceptions for short-haul drivers, the FMCSA encourages drivers in vehicles equipped with sleeper berths to use them. In fact, a driver can only operate his or her vehicle for a maximum interval of eight hours since the last time that he or she took at least a 30-minute break. That break can consist of either using the sleeping birth or being off-duty.

Despite all of these restrictions, the fact remains that some truck drivers simply will not comply with the rules. That’s why drivers are forced to keep logs of their hours of service. If you have been injured in truck accident, your attorney can review these logs and determine whether driver’s fatigue may have played a role in that crash. Fortunately, Pennsylvania laws permit victims of preventable accidents to sue those responsible for their injuries. You may be entitled to recover compensation for your medical costs and other expenses if a fatigued driver caused you harm.

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “Summary of Hours of Service Regulations,” accessed June 04, 2015