Imagine driving your child to school when you are struck by an 18-wheeler on the highway. Alternatively, maybe you were driving to work when the 18-wheeler pulled into your lane without the driver seeing your vehicle there. Both are very serious situations that drivers face every day.
As a parent and someone who takes the highway often, exposure to these dangerous vehicles while you carry the most precious cargo is a serious threat. Here are a few regulations that the United States has in place to help prevent these accidents. If the driver violated them in your case, you have a right to seek compensation for your injuries and the damage that driver caused.
Drivers carrying goods have a limited time to drive each day
Drivers cannot drive more than 11 hours a day and must have at least 10 hours off-duty between 11-hour shifts. Additionally, the person is not allowed to drive after being on-duty consecutively for 14 hours, even if those duties did not involve driving-related tasks.
Drivers who transport passengers have heavy driving restrictions
Drivers who transport passengers, which include people like school bus drivers and taxi carriers, are limited to driving 10 hours in a row, maximum. They must take at least eight hours off-duty before they can return to driving. In total, they may work up to 15 hours as long as that time involves some non-driving duties. In total, five of the 15 hours should be unrelated to driving passengers.
Hourly limits restrict driver workweeks
No, your child’s school bus driver can’t drive over 70 hours over eight consecutive days. He or she can’t drive more than 60 hours in seven days. The same is true for any other driver who transports passengers. For those who don’t transport passengers, the same limits apply, and the driver must take 34 consecutive hours off between seven- or eight-day shifts.
Drivers must meet medical guidelines
The Department of Transportation creates hourly regulations to help prevent drowsiness from affecting drivers. Additional medical restrictions also apply to drivers. For example, drivers may not drive commercially if they take medical marijuana. A driver may not take a controlled substance or prescription medication without an authentic prescription and may not drive if he or she is taking an amphetamine, narcotic or a habit-forming drug as specified by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Drivers who take anti-seizure medications are unable to drive.
Drivers with medical conditions may need further evaluation
Drivers who have medical conditions may need to meet ongoing certification regulations. For instance, a driver with non-insulin treated diabetes mellitus must have the disease adequately controlled and be permitted to drive through a medical examination. The driver needs annual re-certification exams and should not be driving without them.
These are just a few of the restrictions placed on commercial drivers. When you’re hit, your attorney can help you identify if the driver was in violation of the law.