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How long can a trucker legally drive?

If you've been in an accident with a commercial vehicle, like a semi truck, and you found out that the driver caused it by nodding off behind the wheel, you've probably found yourself wondering just how long that trucker was driving. Had he or she been on the road endlessly, trying to make deadlines, until it was just a matter of time before an accident happened?

While this is absolutely possible and does happen, it's also worth noting that it's illegal for truckers to drive over certain amounts of time.

First off, truckers can only drive for 11 hours in a row. After that, they have to take a break for at least 10 consecutive hours. This rule was put in place specifically to get truckers to sleep. Since many are paid by the mile or the job, they may be tempted to drive longer than is safe to earn more money.

On top of the 11-hour rule, truckers can only actively be on duty for 14 hours in a row. There are things that must be done in this industry beyond simply driving the truck, such as doing maintenance, refueling, carrying out vehicle inspections, and loading and unloading freight. The 14-hour rule limits the amount of total time a trucker can work, ensuring that someone who is tired from all of the other demands of the job isn't behind the wheel for too long.

As such, if you were hit by a trucker who went over these limits, you could be entitled to financial compensation. Be sure you know all of the special laws that apply to commercial vehicles and your own legal rights.

Source: Trucking Truth, "13.2 Hours Of Service Limitations," accessed March 02, 2017

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Ben Schmitt

Attorney Ben Schmitt

Mr. Schmitt has over 25 years of legal experience in Missouri and Kansas, and he has been first chair in over 100 jury trials in state and federal courts. He is recognized by the Kansas City Business Journal, Super Lawyers, and Martindale Hubbell as one of the best personal injury lawyers in Missouri and Kansas.