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Federal regulations are in place to combat truck driver fatigue

Any Louisiana driver who is fatigued poses a threat to others on the road. When the driver is behind the wheel of a tractor trailer, that threat only increases due to the mass and size of the vehicle. Federal regulations are in place to combat truck driver fatigue. If those rules are not followed, the results can be disastrous.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), truck drivers who transport cargo long distances are required to take prescribed rest periods and may not drive past a certain amount of hours. These regulations are in place to ensure that drivers get enough rest so that they can remain alert while operating a vehicle. That way, fatigue does not cause drivers to fall asleep at the wheel or to diminish their reaction time, concentration and judgment on the road.

With regard to property-carrying drivers, a minimum of 10 hours off-duty is required in order to drive for up to 11 hours straight. No driver is allowed to drive beyond the 14th hour after reporting for duty, regardless of any time spent off-duty. Every eight hours, a driver must either be in a truck's sleeping berth or off duty for at least 30 minutes (an exception exists for short haulers). If a driver fails to adhere to these regulations and has an accident resulting in injury or death, it could provide evidence of negligence in any civil action filed by, or on behalf of, a victim.

Satisfying a Louisiana court of a truck driver's negligence could result in an award of damages that could defray the financial losses incurred as the result of an accident with a tractor trailer. Truck driver fatigue may not seem like as pressing an issue as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, the outcome is often the same.

Source: fmcsa.dot, "Summary of Hours of Service Regulations", Accessed on June 23, 2015

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