According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, each year driver fatigue is the direct cause of an estimated 100,000 auto accidents, resulting in 71,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths. And that is a conservative estimate.
While drowsy driving is always dangerous, drowsy driving on the part of a truck driver or bus driver can be immensely hazardous because of the size, weight, and speed of the vehicles. That is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, has implemented rules to limit truck and bus drivers’ hours of service.
Semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, and tractor-trailers are regulated by the FMCSA as property-carrying vehicles, and buses are regulated as passenger-carrying vehicles. The hours-of-service rules for each of these types of vehicles are different.
Drivers of property-carrying vehicles (large trucks) are limited to 11 hours behind the wheel in a single workday, and truck drivers must have been off duty for 10 consecutive hours before they are permitted to reach the 11-hour driving limit.
Truck drivers have other job-related duties besides driving, and once their on-duty time reaches 14 consecutive hours, truck drivers are not permitted to drive and must be off duty for 10 consecutive hours before driving again.
Drivers of passenger-carrying vehicles (buses) are limited to 10 hours behind the wheel in a single workday, and bus drivers must be off duty for eight consecutive hours before they are permitted to reach the 10-hour limit.
Bus drivers also have job-related duties other than driving. When bus drivers’ total hours in a single workday reach 15 hours, not counting breaks, bus drivers are not permitted to drive and must be off duty for eight consecutive hours before driving again.
Unfortunately, many truck and bus drivers ignore these regulations and place other motorists at risk. For more on holding truck drivers and trucking companies accountable, please see Chester Law Group’s truck accident overview.