Charles J Argento, Accident and Injury Attorney
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Truck driver fatigue and the law

On Behalf of | Dec 16, 2019 | blog

Every day, as Houston residents commute to and from work and daily activities, they share the road with large trucks. The trucks and their drivers may only be traveling around the city area, while others journey from Texas and beyond to other states.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2017 the police reported 91,000 crashes involving drowsy drivers. An estimated 50,000 people suffered injuries, while almost 800 people died as a result.

Preventing drowsy truck drivers

The federal government law 49 CFR 392.3 states that no driver shall operate a commercial motor vehicle when impaired by fatigue or other cause. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration carries out this statute by regulating the hours a truck driver may drive per day.

Mandating hours of service

Hours of service rules for truck drivers include the following:

  1. The FMCSA allows a truck driver 14 consecutive hours of work per day. After 14 hours, he or she cannot drive again until being off duty for another 10 consecutive hours.
  2. A driver may only drive 11 hours within the 14-hour time span. The driver may continue to work those remaining three hours, but he or she cannot drive.
  3. A truck driver must take a 30-minute rest break if he or she has driven over eight consecutive hours. This rest break does not apply to short-haul drivers.
  4. A driver may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. He or she must restart the drive time after taking at least 34 consecutive off-duty hours.

The FMCSA requires long-haul drivers to keep track of their time spent on and off duty in a designated DOT logbook. The logbook must include the date, name of the carrier, the truck number and the total number of hours driven within a 24-hour period.

Falsification of any records may mean prosecution for the driver. Each state has its own rules and regulations concerning truck drivers, but drivers must follow the federal guidelines when operating interstate.