Commerce in Texas is based, in part, on businesses being able to transport their goods to other locations, whether they are going across the state or across the country. Semi-truck drivers are responsible for much of this transportation, but there are special rules they must follow in order to increase the chances that they will avoid causing truck accidents.
Truckers may operate their vehicles a maximum of 11 hours only after taking 10 hours in a row off-duty, and they cannot be on-duty, whether driving or performing other tasks, for more than 14 hours following a 10-consecutive-hour rest period. In addition, truckers must take a 30-minute rest break after eight hours on-duty. Also, truckers cannot spend more than 60 hours on-duty over seven consecutive days or more than 70 hours on-duty over eight consecutive days.
There is an exception, however, for adverse driving conditions. For example, if poor weather, traffic congestion, or construction causes a trucker to experience a delay in their normal drive times, then they may be able to add two hours onto their 11-hour drive time. However, even with the adverse driving condition exception, truckers still cannot operate their vehicles after 14 hours have passed since the trucker came on-duty.
There is also a 16-hour exception. If a trucker has a one-day work schedule that begins and ends at the same location, he or she can spend 16 hours on-duty, although only 11 of those hours may be spent driving. In addition, truckers are not permitted to utilize both the adverse driving condition exception and the 16-hour exception at the same time.
These rules are meant to keep truckers from driving while fatigued. However, there will always be those who disregard these rules, resulting in truck accidents that injure or kill innocent motorists. All drivers, including truckers, have a legal duty not only to abide by legal regulations but also to drive reasonably under the circumstances. If a trucker breaches these regulations or in some other way drives unreasonably and causes an accident, then accident victims may want to determine if they can pursue a legal claim based on negligence.