If you’ve ever had to get behind the wheel after a long, stressful day, you likely know how difficult it can be to drive safely while feeling fatigued. The best option for everyone’s safety is to stay off the road if you aren’t capable of your optimal performance. Unfortunately, particularly for people who drive for a living, staying off the streets because they feel tired simply won’t be an option.
Commercial truck drivers often have to work incredibly long hours on strict schedules in order to support themselves and their loved ones. Still, truck drivers are human like everyone else, which means that they are as susceptible to exhaustion and the negative consequences fatigue can have on driving skill. Needing to drive while tired could increase the risk a trucker has of causing a crash.
How does exhaustion affect your ability to drive?
Medical experts often compare the impact of exhaustion on driving to the impact of alcohol on driving. Like in cases of chemical impairment, a driver who is quite tired will have longer reaction times and they have a much harder time focusing on the road around them.
The longer an individual has gone without sleep, the more impaired their driving ability becomes. No amount of caffeine or cold air will improve a driver’s ability as much as sleep will.
The federal government wants to limit how long truckers drives
Given that medical experts acknowledge the impact of exhaustion on driving skill, it makes perfect sense that the federal government has rules in place that limit how long someone can drive a commercial truck legally. These rules have been in place for years, but drivers and trucking companies often try to find ways to beat the system.
Manual log books that recorded when drivers were on the road word too easy to alter or duplicate. There are even stories or drivers or companies with two sets of books to avoid enforcement efforts that would force them to stop driving for the day. Electronic logging devices are now mandatory on commercial vehicles, and they make it harder for drivers to change the record of when they were active on the job.
How long can a commercial trucker drive for?
In general, federal rules limit commercial drivers with a vehicle full of property to no more than 11 hours of driving time after 10 hours off duty. Moreover, regardless of how many breaks they take, they cannot drive past the 14th hour after they start a shift. During any given seven- or eight-day period, a driver can only drive up to 60 or 70 hours respectively.
Drivers who break these rules put others at risk and open themselves up to liability. Companies that pressure their drivers to violate the Hours of Service rules could also be responsible for property damage or injuries that result from fatigued commercial drivers who cause crashes.