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Drivers must comply with federal trucking regulations

It occurs everyday. Residents in Iowa encounter large trucks on the roadway. Semi-trucks are considered very beneficial to society and commerce in the nation. They help transport goods across a state, several states and even across the entire nation. Despite the many benefits these large motor vehicles provide, there are several risks and dangers. In some cases, truck drivers are pressured to make timely deliveries to a long-distance destination, leading to long hours behind the wheel of a truck.

In order to address the concern that truck drivers are behind the wheel for too long and do not take enough breaks, federal trucking regulations have been implemented to address the numerous concerns related to this issue. Many are fearful that long hours lead to driver fatigue, which could result in the driver falling asleep, being distracted or inattentive. Such a situation could result in a serious and even fatal truck accident.

Regulations limit the hours of service of a truck driver, which not only impacts how long they can be on duty but how long they must be off duty and the maximum amount of hours they could work in seven to eight days.

Who must comply with these regulations? A commercial motor vehicle is a motor vehicle that engages in interstate commerce or is otherwise part of the day-to-day operation of a business. In addition, these regulations apply to vehicles that weigh more than 10,000 pounds or more, are able to transport either nine or more paying occupants or 16 or more non-paying occupants or are transporting hazardous material, requiring a placard.

When a truck accident occurs with a vehicle that must comply with this regulation, the investigation process includes looking into the driver's trucking log. This determines whether the driver took long enough breaks and is working within their limits of service. Failure to due so could indicate negligence on the part of the driver. In addition, in some cases liability for the accident could be placed on the trucking company as well.

Source: fmcsa.dot.gov, "Hours of Service," accessed March 16, 2015

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