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Truck Driver Fatigue Laws 2019

Tired truckers make more mistakes than well-rested ones


Working extra hours might be ok in some lines of work, but trucking isn’t one of them. In fact, when skipping just a single hour of sleep doubles a driver’s crash risk, drowsy driving can be a deadly mistake.

Naturally, laws exist to stop tired truckers from taking to the road. These truck driver fatigue laws hold employees and employers responsible for compliance. Read on to find out about the rules that apply to your fleet.

Truck driver fatigue laws

Your compliance record should be as clear as this sky

Hours of Service Rules

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires truck drivers to take regular rest breaks. Specifically:

  • You can only drive a maximum of 11 hours in a row after taking 10 consecutive hours of
  • You can’t drive beyond the 14th hour after going on dut
  • You can’t drive for more than 60 hours in one week, or more than 70 hours in eight days

Unfortunately, not all truck drivers follow these rules. That’s where the ELD Mandate comes into play.

What is the ELD Mandate?

Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) record the hours of service (HoS) of your drivers. They do this by using GPS technology to monitor vehicle usage data, and feeding it into reporting software that calculates each driver’s HoS.

The FMCSA requires motor carriers to keep complete records of their drivers’ working hours. Until recently, you were allowed to choose between keeping paper records or electronic records. However, as of 2017, the ELD Mandate requires fleet managers to record this information electronically.

Negligent Hiring or Supervision of a Truck Driver

Falling asleep at the wheel can have life-altering consequences, and the business risks are far-reaching when you consider that victims of your employees’ recklessness can sue you for compensation. Even if your drivers are insured, the terms of your policy may not extend to cover catastrophic injuries or death. If that’s the case, a plaintiff's attorney can pursue you, the employer, for the full amount needed by an accident victim.

Many states follow section 213 of the Restatement (Second) of Agency, which provides that someone who conducts “an activity that involves a risk of harm through agents” will be liable if they employ “improper agents or instrumentalities”. In relation to the first part of that definition, driving a truck is widely accepted as being one of the most dangerous jobs in America. However, the second part touches upon two aspects of fleet management that are within your control:

  1. “Agents” (read: employees)
  2. “Instrumentalities” (read: tools)

Hire Qualified Drivers

Hiring great people is easier said than done, but it pays dividends in the long run. In order to get around the rules regarding employer liability, some trucking companies treat their drivers as independent contractors. However, experienced personal injury attorneys can often use state or federal law to demonstrate that the driver is actually an employee under the law, even though he or she may be formally designated as an independent contractor.

Onboarding software can automate the driver onboarding process, making background checks and training easier to administer.

Next Steps

It goes without saying that the cost of a GPS tracking device pales in comparison to the value of human life. And, in business terms, the costs of complacency are too high to even consider - truck driver fatigue laws, FMCSA fines and lawsuits see to that.

Any software that makes your employees jobs safer is worth a look. That’s why we’ve written at length about the best fleet management software for regulatory compliance. With a bit of comparison shopping and a few quick quotes under your belt, you’re sure to see driver safety scores skyrocket.

All it takes is 30 seconds to request a quote for fleet management software to get started.