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What are the limits for truck drivers' hours of service?

Truck drivers, trucking companies and other parties to the trucking industry must meet high safety standards established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These regulations pertain to anything from proper truck maintenance to drug testing. Here let's discuss some of the safety requirements the FMCSA has established to protect motorists from the inherent dangers posed by large commercial trucks.

A collision with a large truck is very likely to cause personal injury, and truck operators and their employers owe a duty of care to protect other motorists from harm. As we discussed in a recent post, drowsy driving is a serious threat on Missouri roads, and truck drivers and trucking companies must follow hours-of-service rules to ensure that drivers remain alert at all times.

Truck drivers used to be able to work a maximum of 82 hours a week, but that limit was reduced in 2013 to an average of 70 hours a week. Trucker drivers and trucking companies found to be in violation of the rule could be fined by the FMCSA. If truck driver fatigue leads to injuries to another person, then the injured party can seek compensation for damages through a truck accident lawsuit.

If a truck driver reaches the 70-hour limit, then the driver must get at least 34 hours of consecutive rest before driving again. Additionally, the rest must include a minimum of two nights when the driver's body naturally demands sleep between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Another relatively new rule requires a 30-minute break for truck drivers in the first eight hours of a work shift. Each shift must also be limited to a total of 14 hours, with a daily driving limit of 11 hours.

When a truck driver or a trucking company violates any of these rules and causes an injurious accident, it is typically necessary to investigate the driver's hours-of-service log. Drivers are required by law to keep a log, and a personal injury attorney with experience in handling truck accident claims can analyze the truck driver's records to determine whether any violations occurred.

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