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What's the 'hours of service' rule truckers have to follow?

The trucking industry is very demanding, and drivers have long been pushed into working as much as possible for their companies. The surging popularity of online shopping and an aging workforce have increased the demands being placed on trucking companies and drivers even more. In many cases, drivers were being asked to spend a dangerous number of hours behind the wheel.

Then the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) stepped in. The FMCSA created the hours of service rule to put sharp limits on the time any single driver can spend on the road without a break. The goal was designed to limit the number of hours a driver could be on the road in one stretch without a significant rest break (eight to 10 hours, depending on the situation). It also limits the number of hours a driver can be in action over a seven- or eight-day period.

As you can imagine, the hours of service rule isn't particularly popular with many people in the trucking industry. Drivers don't like it because they feel that it artificially limits what they can earn. Trucking companies don't like it because it leads to scheduling conflicts and requires them to keep more active drivers on duty at any given time. Consequently, some drivers will try to find ways around the rule -- and some trucking companies encourage them to do so (despite the risk of fines if they are caught).

The reality is that the hours of service rule is in place to protect both the truckers themselves and everyone else on the road. An overly tired trucker is more likely to fall asleep behind the wheel or be distractible -- and both can lead to terrible accidents.

If you were seriously injured due to an accident with a truck, it's important to find out everything you can about the factors that led to the wreck -- including potential violations of the hours of service rule. Find out more about how to protect your legal rights and what steps to take next after a truck accident.

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