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Why do regulations limit how long truck drivers are on the road?

Though most of us recognize that we cannot drive safely when we are tired, there are no laws specifically requiring most drivers to take regular rest brakes, or limiting the amount of time we can spend on the highway in a given week. But there such regulations limiting the driving time of commercial truck drivers. Why is this?

For one thing, truck drivers are on the road much more than most people. Federal regulations allow up to 70 hours of work time for semi truck drivers per week. The previous cap was 82 hours, and one could imagine how many hours trucking companies would expect their employees to work if there were no such regulation at all.

Also, semi trucks are much heavier than the typical car, truck or SUV. When a semi gets into an accident, the results are often deadly. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates on its website that nearly 4,000 people are killed in collisions with commercial trucks each year. The agency says that driver fatigue is “a leading factor” in such tragedies.

Lack of sleep is a serious driving impairment that can resemble intoxication. Working too many hours in a row, without sufficient recovery time in between, can cause truck drivers to have slowed reaction times. It can also affect their ability to assess the situation around them quickly enough. This can be a very dangerous combination for anyone behind the wheel, let alone someone operating a huge tractor-trailer.

Once someone has been hit by a semi truck, it is too late to prevent the victims’ injuries, but those injured may be able to fight for compensation from the truck driver and his or her employer.

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