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Federal rules aim to prevent truck driver fatigue

As people in Florida head out on their family road trips this summer, they will surely find themselves in the company of semi-trucks on the highways. These massive vehicles take a good deal of training to handle. Moreover, their large size means that due to sheer physics, any accident involving a semi-truck has the potential to be catastrophic. It is important, then, that semi-truck drivers stay as safe as possible while behind the wheel.

Unfortunately, some semi-truck drivers are incentivized financially to make as many deliveries as possible, as quickly as possible. This can lead to driver fatigue, which is a very dangerous situation. The federal government recognizes this, and has regulations regarding how long a truck driver can be on the road before they must stop for a rest.

Under regulations promulgated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, semi-truck drivers can only drive up to 11 hours after having 10 hours in a row in which they are off duty. In addition, semi-truck drivers can operate their vehicles only if eight hours or less have gone by since the driver's previous off-duty or sleeper berth period that lasted at least half an hour.

There is also the 60/70 hour limit rules. A semi-truck driver cannot operate their vehicle after 60/70 hours in 7/8 days in a row. The 7/8 day period can be restarted once the driver has been off-duty for at least 34 hours in a row. For semi-truck drivers using the sleeper berth provision, they must spend a minimum of eight hours in a row in their sleeper berth, in addition to a separate two-hour time period either spent off duty, in the sleeper berth or a combination of both.

These rules are meant not only to keep semi-truck drivers safe, but also to keep all other drivers on the road safe. Driver fatigue can be a real problem, but it is preventable. However, if a semi-truck driver fails to follow these rules and causes a truck accident, the injured party may want to speak to truck and bus accident injury lawyers to determine if it is possible to file a personal injury lawsuit.

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