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How long can truckers stay safely on the road?

Hours of service requirements for truckers have long been a source of concern for drivers, as well as for lawmakers. Over the years, regulations have helped solidify the expectation that truck drivers operate safely and without undue tiredness or rushing. Both driver fatigue and speeding can threaten others' safety, which is why the drivers of commercial vehicles are held to stringent hours of service requirements in Northern Virginia and beyond.

The most recent set of hours of service regulations went into effect in July, 2013. Truck drivers are now limited to 11 hours of daily driving and 14 total hours of being on the job each day. There are also regulations concerning the weekly number of service hours a driver can accumulate. Before the new rules were set forth in the summer of 2013, truck drivers could work up to 82 hours in a single week. Now, they must work only up to 70 hours per week.

If a driver reaches the maximum of 70 work hours in a week, he or she can resume working, but only if certain conditions are met. The driver must rest for 34 hours in a row; this rest must include two nights during which rest occurs between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m., when most people's body clocks tend to be in need of rest. Finally, an important element of the 2013 trucking regulations is that truck drivers must go on a break for 30 minutes during the first eight hours of their shift.

As the victims of Virginia's truck crashes know, truck driver fatigue is a serious threat to the safety of everyone on the road. An individual truck driver who disobeys hours of service requirements may be exhibiting negligence, while a trucking company that encourages drivers to do the same also may be a negligent party in a truck crash.

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, "Hours of service," accessed Sept. 20, 2014

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