Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMV)
Those of us driving common passenger vehicles share the road with very large vehicles such as 18-wheel trucks and semi-trucks. These are generally known as commercial motor vehicles (CMV). The drivers of CMVs face particular stresses, such as long driving hours and roads that are not built to accommodate large vehicles, that can make them susceptible to collisions.
Commercial motor vehicles (CMV) in the Bay State have to follow both Massachusetts and federal trucking regulations. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation issues permits to all CMVs of certain sizes with loads over certain weights. The permits determine when the trucks may travel and on what roads. Vehicles of certain dimensions should not be on certain roads, particularly during times of high traffic. Furthermore, even with a permit, truck drivers with permits cannot travel on Route I-93, south of Exit 30, in the City of Somerville, or north of Exit 17/18 in the City of Boston.
New Federal Trucking Regulations reduce Truck Driver Fatigue
In 2013, new federal regulations were issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in an effort to reduce truck driver fatigue. Under the new regulations, trucks carrying property (as opposed to passengers) are allowed to drive a maximum of 11 hours as long as the driver has rested for 10 hours preceding the drive. The property-carrying driver can perform non-driving work for 14 hours after the 10 hour rest doing things like loading and unloading cargo, repairing, and inspections. The property-carrying driver’s weekly average of driving hours must be 60 hours or less and 70 hours or less in any eight-day period.
If a driver exceeds either the 60 or 70 hour limit within the time period, he or she must rest for 34 consecutive hours before driving again. And the rest period must cover from 1am to 5am twice, which are the hours the human body is typically most in need of sleep. However, the 34-hour rule is currently suspended pending the results of a Congressional study. Congress wants to know whether the two-night rest period described above actually prevents more crashes than the one-night rest period that existed before.
For trucks that are equipped with a sleeper berth, the driver may rest in the sleeper berth instead of going completely off-duty. There are three options:
- The driver can enter the sleeper for at least eight consecutive hours;
- Combine time sleeping in the sleeper berth with other off-duty time that adds up to at least eight hours;
- Get the equivalent of eight hours of rest in two separate, non-consecutive rest periods of at least 4 hours a piece.
Truckers are required to keep logs of their on-duty and off-duty times. The maximum penalty to trucking companies is $11,000 per offense. The maximum penalty to truck drivers is $2,750 per offense.
In addition to hours-of-service trucking regulations, truckers are subject to alcohol and drug testing, driving tests, and other regulations. Worcester attorney Peter Ventura has worked on behalf of truck accident victims for more than 3 decades. If you believe that a trucker caused a collision with you, please contact Peter Ventura.
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