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Federal hours of service rules aim to reduce truck driver fatigue

Truck driver fatigue is a serious danger on Montana roads. When over-the-road truckers drive too long without rest, their alertness and reaction times are adversely affected. In a worst-case scenario, a trucker can fall asleep at the wheel. When a large semi truck is involved in a collision with a smaller vehicle, the occupants of the smaller vehicle can be killed or suffer serious injuries.

To reduce the risk of accidents caused by fatigued truckers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has established rules that govern how long truckers can drive without rest. In general, the rules require that a trucker can drive for no more than eleven hours after ten consecutive hours off-duty. In addition to the eleven driving hours, the driver can do non-driving work, such as loading or performing maintenance on their truck, for an additional three hours. There are also weekly limits in addition to these daily limits.

Truck drivers are required to keep a written trucking log in which they record their hours of service and hours of rest. In a lawsuit arising out of a semi truck accident, this log is often a critical piece of evidence.

The information in this post is intended only as general information, not legal advice. There are a number of exceptions to these rules, but the description above gives a general overview of the hours of service rules. If you or a loved one has been injured in a semi truck accident caused by a truck driver's or truck company's negligence, you may have the right to recover compensation in court. A Montana truck accident attorney who is knowledgeable about federal trucking regulations can be indispensable in this situation.

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Interstate Truck Driver's Guide to Hours of Service, accessed Jan. 19, 2015

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