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Is there a limit on the time a trucker can drive?

Most motorists who drive in the area of Cary, North Carolina, probably recognize the serious danger of fatigued drivers operating large trucks or other commercial vehicles. Aside from just using common sense and not driving when too tired, many truck drivers and trucking companies have an obligation to follow specific federal rules pertaining to how long they can travel before needing to stop and rest.

A trucker who is hauling cargo can only be behind the wheel for 11 hours before having to take a 10-hour break. The rules are similar, with some slight variation, for commercial drivers who are transporting passengers. A trucker's 11 hours only includes actual driving time, meaning a trucker can actual take a longer trip, if he or she shows in the trucking log that they were stopped for gas, a meal or a bathroom break for a few minutes. In any event though, 14 hours is the maximum trip time, even accounting for breaks.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the federal agency that promulgates these rules also limits how much time a driver can travel in one week. Depending on how one counts the time, a driver can travel 60 or 70 hours, and then they must take a 34-hour break.

If a trucker does not follow these rules, he or she faces fines and other administrative penalties.Moreover, not following the rules can lead to an implication that, if there is an accident, the driver was too tired to handle a vehicle safely. But, even if there is no evidence that the driver broke these "rest rules," it is still possible for an injured North Carolina victim to show a truck driver's fatigue caused an accident.

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