Sharing the road with semi trucks can be scary. This is especially true when you see them weaving out of their lane or veering off to the side of the road. It makes you wonder how awake the driver really is. And truck driver fatigue is a big factor in causing serious automobile accidents in the greater Los Angeles Area. The federal hours of service rules are supposed to help by limiting the hours truck drivers can drive. But do they?

Which Trucks Must Comply

Most big trucks we see on the road must comply with the federal hours of service rules, including all trucks with a weight (including any load or cargo) exceeding 10,000 pounds and trucks carrying hazardous materials in certain quantities. In fact, almost all commercial trucks driving on Ventura roads qualify.

The Hours of Service Rules: The Basics

While hours of service rules set limits on how much driving a commercial truck driver can do in  a given time period, many believe they still allow truck drivers to drive too many hours. Here are the basic rules:

  • Truckers can drive a maximum of 14 hours after a 10-hour break.
  • During this 14-hour period, they can drive 11 hours. This means the trucker could drive for 11 hours straight before taking a three-hour break.
  • If the truck company doesn’t operate seven days a week, the trucker can drive 60 hours during any seven consecutive days.
  • For truck companies open seven days a week, the truck driver is allowed to drive 70 hours during any eight consecutive days.

Why This Isn’t Enough

While it’s good there are some rules in place limiting how long truck drivers can drive, Ventura residents are still at risk. In 2012, 3,921 large trucks were involved in fatal accidents nationwide. With trucker fatigue playing a big part in truck accidents, allowing truck drivers to drive as much as 11 hours straight in any 14-hour period is just too much time for the person to stay alert.

Most people work at their jobs for eight hours a day, and they get an hour lunch break. Even with this long break, toward the end of the day we’re watching the time because we’re losing our focus and want to go home and relax. Imagine trying to work an additional three hours, maybe with few breaks or no break at all. The result of these long driving hours is those truck and vehicle accidents on California roads we hear about all the time. They are caused by tired truckers driving way too long. Sadly, the outcome is fatalities and serious injuries to the people in the other vehicles.

If you or someone in your family was injured in a big rig truck accident, you are entitled to compensation for your damages. Fill out our online form on the sidebar for a FREE consultation with a Southern California semi truck accident attorney. We even do free home and hospital consultations.

Peter Steinberg
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Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Since 1982