How the FMCSA is trying to tackle trucker fatigue

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration created new guidelines designed to curb fatigue among truckers in order to improve safety.

Anyone in California who has been in a regular passenger vehicle and found themselves next to a tractor trailer knows the feeling that they get when they realize just how large and heavy these big rigs really must be. These factors alone contribute to the severity of injuries and outcomes that result when accidents involving these vehicles happen.

Media reports of these wrecks highlight the tragedy that people may experience as their lives may be forever changed when a trucker hits a smaller vehicle. CBS8.com provided details of one recent collision in San Diego County when a semi truck went out of control and through not only a metal barrier but a concrete barrier as well. After first hitting a smaller car, it then hit an SUV. The two people in the car died and of the four people in the SUV, a small child was left with a spinal cord injury.

Finding ways to reduce large truck crashes is important and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. They have put in place what is known as the Hours of Service rule to help address issues related to fatigue.

What exactly is the Hours of Service rule?

Simply put, the Hours of Service rule dictates how many hours per day and per work week a truck driver may work and how many of those hours may be spent actually operating a vehicle. In addition, the rule identifies when breaks must be taken and the duration that those breaks must span.

There are different sets of rules for drivers who operate vehicles with passengers and those who operate vehicles with property.

What are the guidelines for passenger-carrying drivers?

Within the span of one workday, a driver may work up to 15 hours. However, only 10 of those hours are allowed to be behind the wheel. A new workday must be preceded by at least eight hours of time away from work.

A work week may last seven or eight days in a row. If seven days, no more than 60 hours may be worked. If eight days, no more than 70 hours may be worked.

What are the guidelines for property-carrying drivers?

The general work week limits of seven or eight days and 60 or 70 hours for passenger-carrying drivers are the same for property carrying drivers. However, those operating rigs with property must have a 34-hour minimum break between the end of one work week and the start of the subsequent one.

A single work day may not exceed 14 hours, of which 11 may be spent driving. Each work day must be preceded by at least 10 hours of off-duty time.

Where can I learn more about getting help after a truck accident?

Whether or not a truck accident was caused by a fatigued driver, California residents should always get professional help from an attorney. This gives them the ability to fully understand the laws and the options for seeking compensation.