Why hours-of-service rules exist: Truck and bus driver fatigue
Drowsy driving is dangerous in any context, but sleepiness behind the wheel can be especially hazardous when the driver is operating a large commercial vehicle such as a bus or an 18-wheeler.
To protect against the potentially devastating consequences of truck and bus driver fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration — or FMCSA — regulates those drivers’ hours of service. Following is a quick breakdown of the the different hours-of-service limits for property-carrying drivers and passenger-carrying drivers.
The FMCSA categorizes truck drivers as property-carrying drivers, and bus drivers are categorized as passenger-carrying drivers.
Large truck operators are limited to 11 hours behind the wheel following 10 consecutive off-duty hours. The FMCSA also recognizes the fact that truck drivers carry out non-driving tasks such as truck maintenance while on duty, and federal regulations account for those non-driving tasks by stating that truck drivers are not permitted to drive after 14 consecutive on-duty hours.
The hours-of-service limits for bus drivers are a little different. Passenger-carrying drivers are subject to a 10-hour driving limit following eight consecutive off-duty hours. Like truck drivers, bus drivers are also responsible for non-driving tasks, so bus drivers are not permitted to drive after being on duty for a total of 15 hours.
The reality is that truck and bus drivers violate these regulations, and driver fatigue is a factor in many crashes. The National Highway Safety Administration estimates that fatigue results in more than 100,000 auto accidents each year.
If you would like to learn more about what to do after a crash with a tractor-trailer or other large commercial vehicle in Indiana, then Steve Crell Law’s truck accident overview is a good place to start.