It’s currently 5:00 a.m. and in the past three days, you’ve only gotten about eight-hours of sleep. Your boss informed you two days ago that your delivery had been rescheduled to 6:00 a.m. this morning instead of 10:00 p.m. So you’ve been burning the midnight oil in order to get your shipment there on time. Thankfully, you’re passing White Oak right now, and should be hitting Silver Spring within the next 10 minutes, which means your destination is only about 45 minutes away. Unfortunately, you can barely keep your eyes open and you’ve almost lost control of your rig three separate times.

What should you do? Should you pull off at Silver Spring and take a nap, or suck it up and continue driving?

Restrictions or Hazards? Hours-of-Service Rules for Truckers

In the United States alone, there are approximately 3.5 million truckers traveling nearly 433 billion miles every year. This means that on average, a U.S. trucker drives 125,000 miles a year—while being forced to make deadlines and get very little sleep.

The Federally mandated hours-of-service rules for truckers was updated in 2013 in an attempt to limit driver fatigue and accidents. The former rules stated that a trucker could work up to 82 hours a week—more than double regular working hours—and didn’t really specify when he had to sleep or for how long.

The new mandate states:

  • Truckers must limit their maximum work week hours to 70 hours, instead of 82.
  • Truck drivers who reach the maximum 70-hours of driving within a week, can resume driving if they rest for 34 consecutive hours, including at least two nights when their body clock demands sleep the most—from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.
  • Truck drivers must take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift.  
  • Drivers must not exceed a maximum of 11 consecutive hours of driving.
  • Drivers must never exceed 14 consecutive hours on-duty (this includes all non-driving activities, such as truck maintenance, loading and unloading, paperwork, etc.)
  • Must have a minimum of 10 consecutive hours’ off-duty between driving shifts.

When Your Job’s Rules Force You to Drive Dangerously

Although these new rules are federally enforced to protect truckers as well as civilians, many trucking companies are trying to discredit and circumvent the new laws. They state that truckers should be able to decide themselves whether they need to stop or not. Unfortunately, this disconnect and clash of law vs. employers has many truckers confused and unsure of their responsibilities. Do you make sure your cargo gets to its destination on time, or do you get the proper amount of rest to do it safely?

Unfortunately, truck corporations would rather see their cargo get delivered, than make sure you’re safe. Therefore, if your employer suggests, urges, or insinuates that you should disregard the hours-of-service mandate, or only sleep a few hours to increase your driving—and you wind up in an accident, call us immediately!

We know how ruthless insurance companies can be in order to push the blame away from their clients. Unfortunately, since you were the driver, that blame will most likely fall on you. Don’t allow your employer’s rules or threats cause you a lifetime of pain and regret. Always drive safely no matter what, pull over when you are tired, and if your fatigue has caused an accident, call us to get a free consultation about your rights and options. We’ll help you figure out who’s to blame and where you can go from there. Remember, it may not be your fault, so why should you take the blame? Call now!

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