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How long can a truck driver be on the road before taking a break?

There is never a good time for a tragedy to occur in the lives of Pottsville residents. And yet, there are some incidents that seem to be even more tragic, such as accidents that occur around the holidays. Making matters worse, many of these accidents could have been prevented if motorists were simply following the rules of the road.

Last week, this blog discussed some of the rules of the road that apply to semi-truck drivers. As noted in that post, there are some rules are imposed on truck drivers that are an addition to the rules of the road governing other motorists.

For instance, the federal trucking regulations govern the amount of time a driver can be on the road. These rules are designed to avoid the occurrence of a truck accident caused by truck driver fatigue, which is a very serious problem for drivers who live on the road and who may have an incentive to transport their loads in as quick of time as possible.

The rules apply differently to drivers who are carrying property and drivers who are carrying passengers. For property-carrying drivers, there is typically an 11-hour driving limit, where the driver can drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off-duty. There is also a 14-hour limit that bars motorists from driving beyond 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty.

There are also rules that mandate certain break times be taken by the driver. Once again, these rules are intended to ensure drivers take adequate breaks to keep them rested enough to drive alertly and safely. If drivers violate these regulations, they may face fines or other penalties, and these violations could be used against the driver in a civil lawsuit brought by those who were injured in an accident with the truck.

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, "Summary of hours of service regulations," accessed on Nov. 28, 2015

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