Federal rest rules limit aim to prevent fatigued truckers

Truck driver fatigue is a serious safety hazard for drivers traveling on the highways and other roads in Alameda and the greater Bay Area. A driver who is too tired to operate a large truck safely can easily cause a truck accident, as his or her mind will tend to wander from the task at hand, even if the driver manages to physically stay awake. In some cases, the behavior of a fatigued driver may even resemble that of a trucker who is driving while drunk or on drugs.

Moreover, because of the size difference between trucks and other vehicles on the road, an accident caused by a fatigued trucker can easily turn in to a very serious affair that can leave a victim with brain injuries, spine injuries and other injuries that can prove permanently debilitating.

This is one of the many reasons why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, has promulgated regulations limiting the amount of time a truck driver can drive before legally having to stop and take a lengthy break. The idea behind these rules is to afford truck drivers plenty of time to sleep so they can drive safely when they get back on the road.

For instance, a trucker who is hauling cargo must take a 10-hour break after driving for 11 hours. Moreover, because short stops at gas stations and the like do not count as part of the 11 hours of driving time, a separate rule requires a 10-hour break after 14 hours on the clock, that is, without regard to whether some of that time was for bathroom breaks or fill ups.

Truckers who do not follow these rules, if they are regulated by the FMCSA, may face fines and other penalties. Additionally, if they cause an accident while in violation of these rules, they may be held financially accountable for their victims' losses.

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