How Long Can a Truck Driver Drive in a Day?

truck tires

Have you ever spent the better part of a day behind the wheel? You were probably feeling pretty exhausted by the 5th or 6th hour. You probably have also never planned a road trip with more than 8 hours of driving in a day because you know that by that point, no matter how many pitstops you take, you will be too tired to safely operate your vehicle.

Even though driving is a sedentary activity, it takes a toll on your mind and body all the same. Yet truck drivers are not only allowed but also encouraged to drive long, long schedules each day and week.

Despite the apparent dangers of exhausted driving that start to set in around 6 hours of driving, the average truck driver can drive 11 hours a day and 55 hours a week. When counting breaks, a trucker’s shift can reach up to 14 hours a day and 70 hours a week. Furthermore, certain truck drivers can be scheduled to drive even longer shifts.

Federal Hours-of-Service Limits

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has set the 11-hour driving limit for most commercial truck drivers. It also prevents truckers from driving for more than 8 hours in a row. At that 8th hour, the trucker must take a break period of at least 30 minutes.

Exceptions to the 11-hour driving rule apply to truck drivers who:

  • Operate a vehicle that weighs less than 10,000 pounds
  • Does not drive more than 100 air-miles from their typical “reporting location”
  • Drive a non-CDL-required truck within 150 air-miles of their typical “reporting location”

Under these exceptions, a truck driver could be seated behind the wheel of a moving vehicle for half of a day or longer. The exhaustion that they feel at that point is beyond what most drivers have ever experienced or can imagine. The risk of getting into a truck accident sharply increases as exhaustion sets in.

Why is Driving for So Long So Dangerous?

Exhaustion has often been compared to intoxication when regarding the effects it has on the body and mind. When someone is exhausted, they have blurred vision, dulled hearing, waned concentration, poorer judgment, and worsened reaction times and muscle control. All the signs of fatigue add up to create someone who is not fit for driving a passenger vehicle, let alone a massive multi-ton commercial truck.

Do Truck Driver’s Falsify Break Logs?

Mandatory breaks throughout a truck driver’s shift are meant to help them rest and refocus before continuing on the road. However, there is a widespread concern that some truck drivers falsify their break logs to avoid losing more time of their day and to get more pay. Truck drivers are paid by the mile driven, so if they say that they are on a break but are really still driving, then they stand to increase their paycheck while simultaneously putting themselves and others in danger.

Truck drivers are also usually instructed to not participate while cargo is being loaded onto or off their trailers. This time should be used to supervise the loading and otherwise rest to some degree. Yet many truck drivers willingly assist load crews to speed up the process, which furthers their own exhaustion by the end of the day.

Can You Sue If Hit by a Tired Truck Driver?

A truck accident claim or a lawsuit cannot undo the harm caused by an exhausted truck driver, but it can help you get your life back on track again by securing much-needed financial compensation. You will want to work with an experienced local truck accident attorney who knows how to find and use evidence that indicates the trucker who hit you was too exhausted to be driving. Depending on what is discovered, the liability for your injuries could be placed on both the truck driver and the trucking company if that employer encouraged or required them to drive for unsafe and unlawful amounts of time.

Rafi Law Group can help you if you were hit by a truck driver in Phoenix. We are among the most trusted personal injury law firms in Arizona, and we would be honored to get the opportunity to show you why. Please call our truck accident attorney at (623) 207-1555 or contact us online to learn more.

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