Commercial motor vehicles, like semi-trucks, are an important part of local and national economies. They help to transport much needed good and resources at an affordable price. However, they also come with risks, including the risk of truck accidents.
While the vehicles large size makes them inherently dangerous, often it is the truck driver that poses the most risk. Drivers often face immense pressure to drive long distances in short amounts of time. Many face issues with fatigue that cloud their judgment and cause accidents. Some may wonder if truck drivers are required to rest.
Federal safety regulations have been enacted to protect the public from sleepy truck drivers. If the driver operates a vehicle that qualifies as a commercial motor vehicle -- generally, those that weigh 10,001 or more pounds -- than the driver is subject to these rules.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, under these hours of service rules, truck drivers cannot drive more than 11 hours in a single day or more than 14 hours in a work day. Drivers must take at least a 30 minute break during their first eight hours on the road. Additionally, drivers are limited to a 70 hour work week.
Once drivers have hit their 70 hour limit, they can only resume driving if they have at least 34 consecutive hours of rest. This rest time must include two nights -- from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. -- off duty.
If drivers fail to obey these hours of service rules, they could be acting negligently. While this post cannot provide specific legal advice, Virginia residents should know that negligent truck drivers can be held liable for any injuries they cause. An attorney can help explain a person's rights following a truck accident.