Everyone knows that a fatigued truck driver on a Kentucky highway puts everyone else on the road in grave danger. Sleepiness and driving any vehicle is a potentially dangerous combination. Add in a huge, multi-ton tractor-trailer, and the risk of serious tragedy gets even higher.
That is why the federal government regulates the hours that long-haul truckers work as they travel from state to state. These rules set limits on how many hours in a row a truck driver can be on the road without taking a break and how many hours per week they can work. Here is a summary of those rules.
Consecutive hour limits
Long-haul commercial truck drivers carrying cargo (as opposed to passengers) may drive a maximum of 11 hours after at least a 10-hour break. They cannot drive more than 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty following a 10-hour break. After eight consecutive hours, the driver must take a 30-minute break. They can remain on duty or go off-duty during the break. The 10-hour break may be split into two breaks, as long as one portion lasts at least seven hours and the driver spends it in the sleeper berth, the other portion (which can be spent anywhere) lasts at least two hours, and the two breaks add up to at least ten hours.
Limit on days worked in a row
The government limits drivers to 60 hours of being on duty in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight consecutive days. A 34-hour break resets the clock, allowing the driver to work up to seven or eight consecutive days from that point.
Technology attempts to monitor truck drivers and enforce these regulations, but pressure from trucking companies can force drivers to skip or shorten rest breaks. As a result, drivers can be exhausted on the road, which delays their reaction times and reduces their judgment. When a truck driver nods off behind the wheel, the truck becomes a deadly weapon traveling at high speeds.