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How Long Can A Truck Driver Legally Drive At One Time?


Trucking accidents can be devastating. When you have a massive, heavy, 18-wheeler or tractor trailer truck colliding with normal vehicles, the normal vehicles, and the occupants inside of them, rarely stand much of a chance.

Tired and Overworked Drivers

There are a lot of reasons why trucking accidents happen, but one major reason is quite simply that drivers drive too long on the highways without a break.

Trucking companies, and truckers, make money by moving products to where they need to be, and doing so quickly. That puts the incentive on drivers to stay on the road as long as possible, which leads to drivers being behind the wheel when they are tired and exhausted (or worse, when they are sick or on medication that they should not use while driving).

Government Time Restrictions

To curb this problem, the government has passed guidelines as to how many hours a trucker is allowed to be on the roads at any one time. The restrictions apply to cargo or freight trucks, not to any other trucks, such as ones that carry people.

The most that a driver can be on the road in one day is 11 hours, so long as the driver gets a 30 minute break every eight hours. The driver must also have a consecutive 10 hours off between the 11-hour shifts.

Over the course of a week, a driver is limited to 60 hours or 70 hours over any 8 day period. If the driver does drive for the full 70 hours, the driver must have 34 hours off before going back to work.

Extensions to the Limitations

There are some times when these time frames can be exceeded, such as in emergencies, and during the holidays.

Timelines can be extended where bad weather makes transportation slower, so drivers can get out of the either without having to stop to rest.

Many of these timelines also don’t apply if the driver is hauling freight within a close radius of wherever the driver reports to work (usually, within 100-105 miles)—in other words, the limitations are generally for long-haul, state to state, or cross country trips, not for local inter-metropolitan area trips.

The law also doesn’t tell a driver what they have to do during down time; the hope is that they rest, but not every driver does. That means that even with the restrictions, there can still be drivers that are drowsy on the roadways.

Logging the Hours to Make Sure Restrictions are Complied With

Trucking companies are required to log a driver’s hours, so they are available for inspection, or in the event there is an accident. Many companies do that electronically but it can be done on paper; in either event, both the company and the driver must be given copies of the driving log.

Call the West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys at Pike & Lustig today if you are in an accident with a truck, a tractor trailer, or an 18-wheeler.




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