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Rules limiting truckers' hours aimed at preventing accidents

Kentucky residents may be surprised to learn that hours limiting drive time apply not only to truck drivers but to anyone who drives a commercial motor vehicle. The full regulations promulgated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration went into effect July 1, 2013.

The regulations apply to anyone who drives a vehicle used in interstate commerce that weighs more than 10,001 pounds, carries eight paying passengers or 15 non-paying passengers plus the drivers, or carries large quantities of hazardous materials. The rules' goal is to prevent drivers from getting overly tired while they're on the road.

Sleep-deprived truck drivers may be too tired to pay enough attention to their driving, and thus may be in more accidents. To combat this, the regulations limit drivers to 11 hours of driving time in a 14-hour work day. Under the new rules, a trucker's work week was reduced from 82 to 70 hours. Drivers who reach 70 hours may work additional hours in a week if they rest for a minimum 34 hours, including at least two consecutive nights from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. Drivers also are required to take a 30-minute rest break during the first eight hours of their work day.

Working long hours on a continuous basis can lead to chronic fatigue and other chronic health conditions, the federal agency said, noting that the new rules should save 19 lives annually and prevent 1,400 truck accidents and 560 injuries. The occupants of passenger vehicles are more apt to suffer serious injuries, even death, because their vehicles may be unable to withstand a heavy impact from a larger vehicle. Someone injured due to the negligent actions of a commercial driver may be able to obtain compensation for those injuries.

Source: FMCSA, "Hours of Service", November 03, 2014

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