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Federal rules limit the time truckers can be on the road

Fatigued driving is dangerous behavior for any motorist traveling through the Blacksburg, Virginia, area to engage in.

One need not be an expert to recognize that someone who is too tired behind the wheel, even if he manages to stay awake, is prone to making major errors in judgment, losing control of his vehicle, drifting and other behavior akin to drunk or drugged driving.

However, when someone is driving a large semi-truck or other big commercial vehicle, it is even more important that she do so awake and alert. After all, truck accidents can often lead to catastrophic injuries in part because trucks are so much larger, and weigh so much more, than the cars with which they share the road.

For this and other reasons, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates trucks traveling across state lines, has issued a series of regulations of what are commonly referred to as rest rules, although they are actually called Hours of Service Regulations.

These rules limit the amount of time regulated commercial drivers can spend on the road during a given day or week without first taking an extended break. Presumably, this mandatory break is an opportunity for the driver to sleep.

Not following these rules can lead to fines and other penalties, even the loss of the privilege of operating a commercial vehicle. Unfortunately, because of profit-driven pressure, many companies and drivers either ignore these rules altogether or try to get around them. If in the process of skirting these rules drivers cause an accident, then they are their employers may also be held accountable for the injuries they cause via a civil lawsuit.