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Safety guidelines for commercial drivers

Commercial drivers in Nebraska are bound by the guidelines set forth by the Federal Motor Commission Safety Administration, including limitations on their hours of service. These rules are put in place to minimize the risk of accidents and help keep people safe on the roadways. The Hours of Service for Drivers Final Rule was first published in December 2011, but provisions were changed in 2013.

The guidelines are in place for any vehicle that carries hazardous materials or has a gross vehicle weight of more than 10,001 pounds. The rules also extend to drivers who transport more than nine passengers for compensation or carry more than 16 passengers at a time without compensation.

As of July 2013, drivers are limited to driving 11 hours a day with a total allowed working time of 14 hours. Furthermore, they are limited to 70 hours in any given week. This is down from the 82-hour maximum that was previously enforced. Drivers who reach their limit of 70 hours are required by law to rest for 34 hours before resuming their duties, including at least two nights between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Furthermore, drivers are required to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of any given shift.

The ultimate goal of these guidelines is to decrease the number of truck accidents by preventing commercial drivers from working when they are exhausted. A trucking log is used to track the hours worked and help document a company's and driver's compliance with the guidelines. If a company or individual violates the law, which can be documented through secondary logs of other evidence, then victims may be able to seek punitive damages after an accident. An attorney could help victims investigate the case to determine if the accident was caused in part by a disregard for these guidelines.

Source: FMCSA, "Hours of Service", November 03, 2014

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