The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that truck drivers follow certain regulations that do not apply to drivers of passenger vehicles. For example, hours of service regulations restrict the number of hours a truck driver can drive in one day and specify the maximum number of consecutive hours a truck driver can drive before having to take a break. The main purpose of these hours of service regulations is to prevent driver fatigue, a common cause of semi/trucking accidents nationwide.
Hours of service regulations for truck drivers
The FMSCA has implemented certain restrictions for South Carolina truck drivers driving commercial trucks containing property. These regulations differ from the ones implemented for truck drivers operating commercial trucks with passengers. Some of the property-carrying truck driving regulations by the FMCSA specify:
- No more than 11 hours driving (after 10 straight hours off duty)
- No more than 14 consecutive driving hours (after 10 straight hours off duty)
- A minimum of one 30-minute break from driving for every 8 hours on the road
- No more than 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days
Truck drivers who fail to abide by the FMSCA’s hours of service regulations may fall asleep at the wheel or engage in drowsy driving, causing their trucks to veer into traffic and collide with other vehicles. Due to the size of commercial trucks and weight of the cargo, commercial trucks often cause more serious accidents than passenger vehicles. Truck drivers who engage in negligent behavior behind the wheel, along with the companies that employ them, may be held liable for economic and non-economic damages after a truck accident.