Federal trucking regulations aim to prevent driver fatigue

As this blog has discussed on previous occasions, it is very important for a truck driver traveling through the Ponca City, Oklahoma, area to make sure that he or she is awake and alert enough to operate the vehicle safely.

While fatigue can cause vehicle accidents without regard to whether a driver is in his or her private automobile or in a large commercial vehicle, an accident involving a big rig can cause a lot more damage and can leave victims permanently disabled or even dead.

This is one reason why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which has jurisdiction over many of the trucks that travel around Ponca City on their way to delivery stops around the country, has promulgated hours of service regulations, commonly called "rest rules" which require truck drivers hauling property to stop and take an extended break every so often, even if doing so means they are delayed in making a delivery. Slightly different rules apply to drivers of buses and other large passenger vehicles.

Specifically, a trucker has to stop and rest for 10 hours after being behind the wheel for 11 hours. Because behind the wheel time does not include stops for gas and the bathroom, the Administration also has a rule stating that a driver cannot continue to drive without a 10-hour break once the driver has been on the road for 14 hours, even if some of that time is in the bathroom or at the gas pump.

There are also restrictions on how many hours a trucker can be on the road in a given week, and once he or she has reached the legal limits, the trucker has to stop working for about a day and a half before going on the road again.

Truckers and trucking companies who choose to ignore or try to skirt these rules may get fined by the Administration or face more severe penalties. Moreover, if the violation contributed to an accident, the trucking company and driver may be liable to pay compensation to their victims.

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