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Rest rules limit how long truckers can be on the road

Many truckers who travel through and around the Bryan, Texas, area are subject to regulations put forward by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, FMCSA. Some of these regulations limit the number of hours a truck driver can be on the road before stopping to take a break for a few hours, presumably so the driver can sleep.

These regulations are important because, as a previous post on this blog discussed, fatigued driving is many times us dangerous as drunk or drugged driving. When one adds in the size of a large commercial vehicle to the mix, it is fairly easy to see how an overly tired truck driver can inflict catastrophic injuries on other motorists.

As to the details of these rules, a truck driver who is required to follow federal regulations and is hauling property must pull over to rest for 10 hours after spending 11 hours behind the wheel. The FMCSA also has a companion rule requiring a 10-hour break after a driver has been on the road, or on duty for 14 hours. Unlike the 11-hour rule, short stops for the restroom or to get gas are counted as part of the 14 hours.

There are also limits on how many hours a trucker can log per week before taking a day and a half or so off, and similar rest rules apply to bus drivers and other drivers who transport passengers for a living.

These rules apply no matter how awake a driver feels physically and no matter what time pressures the driver is under to deliver his or her load. If he or she breaks these rules, or if the driver's employer encourages violations, then the FMCSA may punish both the driver and the company with fines or, in severe cases, revocation of the privilege to drive over state lines for a living.

Moreover, if a fatigued trucker causes an accident and if it turns out he or she was violating the federal rest rules, then any victims of the accidents can use the violation as evidence of negligence in a personal injury lawsuit.

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