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What are the laws regulating operating hours for truck drivers?

On Behalf of | Nov 2, 2020 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Given the prevalence of people who report experiencing some degree of fatigue while behind the wheel, you likely know just how impairing drowsiness can be while driving. For you (and most other motorists in New York), the solution may be simple: just pull off the road and rest for a few minutes. Yet what if your job does not allow you to do that? 

Professional truck drivers typically have their performance judged based on their ability to complete routes within a certain period of time. This pressure may prompt them to push themselves to the brink of exhaustion. Yet federal lawmakers understand this, which is why hours-of-service regulations exist to keep drowsy truck drivers off the road. The question then becomes how can you know if driver fatigue did indeed play a role in your truck accident. 

Breaking down federal hours-of-service regulations

Federal law limits truck drivers from driving more than eight hours without taking a breaking, and not driving more than 14 hours during a single work shift. They are also not permitted to work more than 60-70 hours then needing to take at least 36 consecutive hours off duty. 

To ensure that truck drivers meet these standards, the law requires that they maintain up-to-date work logs. If the driver that caused your accident cannot produce such logs, that may be an indication they were in violation of the regulations. If they provide them, yet those records are later proven to be false, they may face additional criminal and civil liability. 

Exceptions to hours-of-service rules

Per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there are certain exceptions to federal hours of service regulations. For example, a driver can extend their working hours in adverse weather conditions. Hours-of-service rules also only apply to those drivers operating vehicles with a gross vehicular weight of over 10,000 pounds.