Truck drivers are meant to follow many different regulations. They need medical checkups and clearances, valid licensing, training and education. They have to follow distracted driving laws and obey speed limits. They have restrictions on how long they can work and how long they have to sleep when they're on the job.
Despite this, truck drivers cause many accidents each year. Many are a result of a lack of sleep, pushing for deadlines that are nearly impossible and violating a series of federal regulations.
How many hours can truck drivers be on the road at one time?
Drivers are limited to being on the roads a maximum of 11 hours if they are carrying goods and 10 hours if they're carrying passengers.
If they're carrying property, they may drive 11 hours only after taking 10 consecutive hours off.
Drivers who travel with passengers must have eight hours off duty before driving a 10-hour shift.
Drivers who carry property have a 14-hour limit per day to their shifts including time they're not behind the wheel.
Drivers who take passengers have a 15-hour limit.
Interestingly, drivers who carry passengers may not drive after 70 hours on duty in eight consecutive days, while those who have goods may not drive after a 60-hour week.
Sleeper berth provisions do help drivers get where they're going faster, but they also make sure they get enough sleep to drive safely. For instance, drivers who do long hauls have to take at least 30 minutes in the berth for every eight hours on the road. Those with passengers have to have at least eight hours of sleep but can take that in two parts, splitting the breaks into two- and six-hour breaks, three- and five-hour breaks, or four- and four-hour breaks. No break is allowed to be shorter than two hours.
What should you do if you get into a crash with a truck driver?
Remember that these drivers do have a responsibility to others on the roads. If they were acting dangerously, texting, eating behind the wheel or had fallen asleep, the driver should face consequences. Make sure you let the police know anything you can about the moments leading up to the crash, so they can investigate what actions led to it.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is in charge of trucking regulations as well as enforcing trucking laws. If you notice that a driver isn't being safe, it's important to report him or her by calling the OHP at *55 or calling 911 for highway emergencies.