Despite the law, many truck drivers still drive while fatigued

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2017 | blog |

There are a number of factors that can increase your risk of experiencing a serious or even fatal car crash. Even when you try your best to prioritize safety, you can’t control the weather or the behavior of other people on the road. Drivers who feel tired, drive distracted or get behind the wheel while chemically impaired certainly put everyone else at risk.

In order to reduce that risk, there are laws in place that penalize drivers who choose to drive while under the influence, as well as those who choose to text or use social media while driving. Of course, commercial drivers are subject to the same rules, and often get held to a higher standard. That doesn’t stop them from making mistakes, including choosing to continue driving when they feel tired.

Truck drivers may not feel like they can stop

Working as a commercial truck driver isn’t an easy career. Transportation careers pose a risk of severe injury or death to workers. The job itself is monotonous and grueling, often requiring the driver to remain seated for hours at a go without much of a chance for a break. Their employers and clients, after all, rely on them to reach their delivery point on time.

In many cases, companies choose to incentivize on-time shipments by offering bonuses. Whether these bonuses look like a lump sum added to the wages or a few extra cents per mile for the trip, they can represent a significant motivator for truck drivers to exceed speed limits or continue driving when they should stop.

The federal government limits driving time

In order to reduce the very real risk to other drivers created by massive commercial trucks, lawmakers created special regulations to limit dangerous or risky behavior by commercial drivers. One of the most important protections aims to reduce exhausted or fatigued driving. These rules, called Hours of Service regulations, limit how long a driver can legally remain behind the wheel.

In general, commercial drivers carrying cargo have an 11-hour driving limit. They can drive at most 11 hours after 10 consecutive off-duty hours. Regardless of what breaks they take in the meantime, they cannot drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty.

In order to continue driving, they must rest for at least 10 hours. Additionally, drivers must have breaks of at least 30 minutes every eight hours or more. Overall, they cannot drive more than 60 hours within seven consecutive days or 70 hours within eight consecutive days.

In order to meet delivery timelines, drivers may choose to falsify rest and break logs to continue driving without resting. When that happens, they put everyone else on the road at risk.