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Are Truckers Working Too Long?

Yawning truck driver in cab

It’s 8 p.m. on the highway. A trucker is approaching his 11th hour behind the wheel. His eyes are fluttering, and he’s struggling to stay awake. He wants to pull over, but his fleet controller urges him to go just a little farther to make up for lost time earlier in the day.

If our trucker pulls over, he may endanger his job. If he keeps going, he could get into a crash and endanger everyone on the road. That raises the question, are truckers working too long?

Hours of Service

Long-distance truck drivers are bound by Hours of Services (Hos) regulations dictating how long they’re able to drive in a given day. This is supposed to keep truck drivers from overexerting themselves or experiencing burnout while on the road.

Typically, a truck driver can travel for 11 hours before a 10-hour break for a maximum of 14 hours in a 24-hour period. This is further limited by the "60/70" rule, which says that a working truck driver may not operate their vehicle for more than 60-70 hours in a 7-day/8-day period. 

Pushed to the Limit

HoS regulations are supposed to keep truckers safe, but many drivers feel pressure from their fleet controllers to go beyond their limits, especially if they’ve fallen behind schedule. If, for example, there was an unrelated accident and the truck driver was caught in a traffic jam for several hours, they might face pressure to reach their intended destination on schedule, regardless of their hours.

Data collected by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) suggests that pressure from employers is a significant contributing factor in driver fatigue and drowsiness, which, in turn, leads to more truck crashes. Often, distraction, inattention, and fatigue are three of the biggest contributing factors to crashes caused by the truck driver.

If you or someone you love suffered severe injuries in an 18 wheeler crash, you might have a case. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Amarillo 18-wheeler accident attorney from Wood Law Firm LLP, please send us an email or call (806) 304-0447.