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Federal trucking regulations address driver fatigue

Fatigue is a serious problem for over-the-road truck drivers. After hours of driving any person will become tired, resulting in lowered reaction times and reduced alertness to hazards. Extreme fatigue can even lead to falling asleep at the wheel. When a Maryland resident is injured in a collision with a semi truck, one of the areas to investigate is whether the driver and the trucking company complied with federal hours of service rules.

Hours of service rules have been established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to reduce the danger of tractor-trailer accidents caused by overtired truck drivers. Truckers can drive a maximum of 11 hours after taking a break of at least ten hours. Drivers can do non-driving work such as loading, unloading or maintaining the truck for an additional three hours after coming on duty. They cannot drive more than 14 total hours after coming on duty, however. They also cannot drive more than eight hours after a sleeper berth break of at least half an hour, or after coming on duty.

Truckers cannot drive more than 60 total hours in six days or 70 total hours in seven days. After 34 hours or more off duty, a truck driver can start a new six or seven-day driving period.

Too ensure compliance with these rules, truckers must keep a written or electronic log of their on-duty, driving and rest hours. In a personal injury or wrongful death case arising out of a truck crash, the driver's log can often be a critical piece of evidence.

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, "Summary of Hours of Service Regulations," accessed April 19, 2015

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