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Truck driver fatigue and accidents

If you drive a lot, you know how sleepy you can get after hours behind the wheel. It's no different for professionals, no matter how much experience they have. Driving a big rig is difficult, too, and it demands absolutely full attention.

Truck driving is a job, however, and everyone comes under pressure at work. Putting in extra hours might get you some extra pay, but truck drivers are regulated so they are not fatigued while on the road. And far too many are pushing themselves over the limits.

The rules for truckers

Federal rules apply to truckers who cross state lines. They govern both on-duty time, which includes waiting for a load or other reason, as well as time spent driving. All interstate truckers are required to have 10 hours off before they can work for 14 hours, with only 11 of those hours on-duty driving.

Texas has its own laws for drivers within the state, and they are a little tougher. Truckers in this state must have 8 hours off before they can work no more than 12 hours on-duty. They can also have no more than 70 hours on-duty in any week.

In order to verify this, they are required to maintain a logbook of their hours. But they also usually fill out a time card showing their payable hours, even if they are independent contractors. Because these two could be different, the government is moving towards an electronic log connected directly to the truck.

Preventing fatigue

The reason for all of these rules is that drivers have to have enough sleep to give their full attention to their rig. Fatigue is a problem for many truckers.

There is pressure on them to work more hours, however. A shortage of truckers, particularly in the oil patch, has put pressure on many of them to work longer hours. The temptation to keep driving is very real, and very dangerous.

Been in an accident?

If you or a loved one was in an accident involving a truck, there's a good chance that the driver was over their allotted number of hours either for the day or the week.

An experienced personal injury attorney knows to look at not just the logbooks but the timecards to see if they are over their hours. It's an important part of determining whether or not a truck driver is suffering from fatigue and should not be on the road in the first place.

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