In today’s fast-paced world of commerce, companies in California face stiff competition from their rivals to get their goods on store shelves as soon as possible. This culture of competition and immediate customer satisfaction extends even to the drivers of semi-trucks, who are often encouraged either by their employer or by the all-mighty dollar to make their deliveries as quickly as possible. This, in turn, could lead semi-truck drivers to try to drive with as little sleep as possible, if it means reaching their destination sooner. However, drowsy driving can cause serious truck accidents that have the potential to injure or kill other innocent motorists. Therefore, federal rules have addressed when a semi-truck driver must rest and for how long.
First of all, semi-truck drivers are subject to an 11-hour driving limit. This means they are only allowed to drive up to 11 hours after being off-duty for 10 consecutive hours. Moreover, semi-truck drivers are also subject to a 14-hour driving limit. This means they are not allowed to drive after the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty following a 10 consecutive hour off-duty period. In addition, semi-truck drivers are subject to a 60/70 hour limit. This means that are not allowed to drive after being on duty for 60/70 hours in 7/8 days in a row. The 7/8 day period may restart if the driver spends at least 34 hours in a row off-duty.
There are also rules regarding mandatory rest breaks. A semi-truck driver can only drive for a maximum of eight hours since their most recent rest break of at least 30 minutes. Finally, there are sleeper berth provisions. Semi-truck drivers using their sleeper berths are required to spend at least eight hours in a row in the sleeper berth, in addition to spending two separate hours in a row off-duty, in the sleeper berth or both.
A drowsy semi-truck driver is a dangerous semi-truck driver. Truck driver fatigue is responsible for many accidents across our nation each year. Federal trucking regulations try to address the issue, but in the end it is important for truck drivers to take adequate rest breaks while on-the-job. Should they fail to do so, and therefore cause an accident that injures or kills another person, the accident victim could pursue legal action against the truck driver, truck company or both.