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Truck driver fatigue can be deadly

Owners and operators of heavy trucks in Texas are subject to federal trucking regulations designed to reduce the likelihood of serious accidents. One of the most important sets of regulations are the hours of service rules, which govern how long a trucker can be on the road without stopping for rest.

Truckers driving in interstate commerce can be on-duty doing any kind of work for no more than 14 consecutive hours after a period of at least 10 straight hours off duty. During the 14-hour on-duty period, they can actually drive for no more than 11 hours. For example, if a driver shows up for work at 8 a.m. and begins driving right away, they cannot drive past 7 p.m. that day (11 hours of driving) and they cannot drive again until they have had 10 straight hours off duty. A driver who drove from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. could do work other than driving - such as loading, unloading or inspecting their truck, or training - after 7 p.m. and until 10 p.m., at which time they hit the 14-hour on-duty limit.

In addition to the 11- and 14-hour daily limits, there are weekly limits. For a truck company that does not operate every day of the week, the maximum is 60 hours in a 7-day period. For a company that does operate trucks every day of the week, the limit is 70 hours in an 8-day period. The 7- and 8-day periods are rolling periods, meaning every day drivers must add up their on-duty time for the preceding 6 or 7 days; the current day is always considered the last day of the rolling 7- or 8- day period.

This information in this post is general information only and should not be considered specific legal advice. There are numerous exceptions to these regulations which we do not have the space to go into here. If you have been injured by a truck driver's negligence, an experienced truck accident attorney can provide answers to your specific questions.

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Interstate Truck Driver's Guide to Hours of Service, accessed Dec. 22, 2014

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