The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has put strict
limits on how long a trucker can be behind the wheel in a single shift.
Or have they? By exploiting loopholes in the federal regulations, trucking
companies and their truckers can find ways to put their vehicles on the
highways for extended periods of time. Many truckers are out on the road
for so long during one shift, extreme fatigue can set in.
When a trucker is fatigued, their reaction time to obstacles ahead of them
will increase dramatically, putting themselves and everyone around them
at risk of a
truck accident. If the exhaustion is too great, they may even fall asleep behind the
wheel, effectively turning their 18-wheeler into a runaway freight train.
Illegitimate business practices that have truckers working prolonged shifts
are absolutely inexcusable, but the standards set by the FMCSA might not
be much better.
How Long Can a Trucker Work in a Day?
According to the FMCSA, most commercial truckers are not allowed to work
more than 14 hours in a day, and 11 of those hours must be spent on break
or not driving. This is not someone’s idea of what the maximum amount
of hours a truck driver can work, mind you – this is a federal mandate
considered to be “safe.” If you were to ask someone to drive
11 hours in a single day with only brief periodic breaks, they would outright
refuse. And yet truck drivers are expected to do just this every time
they clock in.
To make matters worse, they can legally be given 5 shifts a week for a
total of 70 hours on the clock and 55 behind the wheel. Anyone will begin
to feel tired after 50+ hours of work, even if they are not controlling
an 80,000 pound vehicle. The regulations go on to say that 10 hours must
exist between shifts but this does not account for travel time between
the truck’s final destination and the trucker’s home. In a
news story that shocked the nation in 2014, popular comedian Tracy Morgan
was critically injured in a truck accident caused by a trucker who hadn’t
slept for more than
hours before the collision due to necessary travel time from home to the depot.
If truck accidents are really to be eliminated nationwide, the FMSCA will
need to reevaluate its regulations and take additional steps to enforce
them. And those who have been injured in a truck accident will need to
continue to use legal action to hold the negligent parties accountable.
If you have been hurt by a trucker who was exhausted behind the wheel,
contact our award-winning team of Lakeland truck accident attorneys at Lilly, O’Toole & Brown, LLP. We offer contingency fee agreements
so you don’t have to worry about paying anything upfront or out
of pocket for our services – we only get paid if we win you a settlement! Call
(888) 752-0533 today to learn more.