DOT Regulations for Truck Drivers Set Scheduling Standards – Violations Can Cause Truck Crashes

To maximize income, truck drivers often keep crazy work schedules, driving hours upon hours without a break. Longer hours mean more trips and more profit, so carriers often nudge or openly encourage their workers to “keep on trucking.” Unfortunately, an unreasonable truck driver schedule can be extremely dangerous. It leads to driver fatigue, which in turn, increases the risk of truck crashes.

There are federal laws that limit the number of consecutive hours a truck driver can work and that mandate regular breaks. However, trucking companies with unreasonable schedules often skirt around these laws, putting everyone on the road at risk.

Pressure in the Trucking Industry

Truck drivers are under massive pressure to perform because it increases the bottom line for companies. Anne Ferro, former head of the FMCSA said, “Drivers are paid by the mile or by the load. So it really is the case, the longer you sit, the more money you make.”

Truck driver Janessa Mann told National Public Radio (NPR): “Truckers are always going to push it, because we don’t have a choice. The stuff needs to be there. If you don’t make it on time, the companies will make you sit in their parking lot for two to eight hours because you were late.”

Truck carriers need to recognize and take responsibility for the way they manage their fleets and the impact their decisions have on public safety. It’s not only irresponsible for companies to push their drivers to the limit, it’s also illegal.

Truck Drivers’ Work Schedules

Driver fatigue is a contributing factor in up to 40 percent of truck accidents, reports the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. Amputations and traumatic brain injuries are just two of the most common types of injuries that victims sustain in serious car accidents.

Drivers can reduce fatigue by doing the following.

  • Keeping a reasonable schedule
  • Taking periodic breaks
  • Getting a good rest in between shifts

The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the government agency tasked with overseeing the truck carrier industry. All companies must follow DOT regulations for truck drivers, including rules that limit working hours.

To minimize the risks of driver fatigue and drowsiness, the FMCSA provides the following rules for truck drivers.

  • They can’t drive more than 11 consecutive hours.
  • They have to have at least 10 hours off-duty in between shifts.
  • They must take a 30-minute break within their first eight hours on the road.
  • They can’t drive after 60-70 hours on duty in seven to eight consecutive days. A new 7/8 consecutive day period restarts only after 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.

If carriers or trucker drivers break the FMSCA rules or alter their logbooks and it leads to an accident, they will not only be subject to fines and sanctions, but they will also be liable for victims’ damages. It can be difficult to fight a trucking company on your own which is why many victims choose a truck accident lawyer like David Bressman. Fill out our contact form to start the process of a case review and get more information on how fatigued driving may have caused your accident. Call (614) 538-1116.