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What safety standards must a truck driver follow?

With a massive trucking industry serving the nation’s needs across a crisscrossing network of highways, truck accidents are likely to result in devastating property damage and catastrophic injuries. For this reason, truck drivers are held to a higher standard of professionalism.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has instituted numerous regulations designed to keep the roadways safe. From long-haul drivers traveling across the country to commercial truck drivers making deliveries in and around major metropolitan areas, regulations must be followed to prevent unsafe driving habits, drowsy driving and avoid distractions.

What is the 30-minute break rule?

Drivers find themselves facing a strict timetable. They might be offered incentives for efficient times and speedy routes. Unfortunately, truck drivers might be tempted to push past the normal limits of fatigue to reach their destinations faster. Drowsy driving can lead to blurred vision, slowed reaction times and poor decision-making which can all cause devastating motor vehicle collisions. To combat this, the FMCSA has instituted a 30-minute break rule.

While these regulations are often revised to reflect changing safety standards, the break rule generally states that:

  • A 30-minute break is required after 8 hours of driving time.
  • The driver must be off-duty for at least 30 consecutive minutes.
  • The 8 hours of driving time must be cumulative, but it does not have to be consecutive.
  • The rest period does not extend the driver’s daily 14-hour window.

Due to their size and highway speeds, vehicle accidents involving 18-wheelers are often devastating to the drivers and occupants of smaller cars and passenger trucks. Vehicle occupants can suffer head trauma, spinal cord damage, paralysis and amputation. Serious collisions can result in death. If you were injured or you lost a loved one in a trucking accident, it is wise to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney.