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Why and how are tractor-trailers regulated in the U.S.?

Everyone has seen the large tractor trailers hauling goods from coast to coast. Most are aware of how important semi-trailers are to the economy. However, some are not aware of the dangers these tractor-trailers can pose while traveling with regular passenger vehicles on the roads. The reality is that these large tractor-trailers can cause devastating truck accidents and because of this, the industry is highly regulated.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates how many hours in a day a truck driver is legally allowed to operate his or her vehicle. Obviously, these regulations apply to drivers of tractor-trailers or similar vehicles, not to non-commercial drivers. Long-haul truck drivers cannot work more than 14 hours straight. This includes loading time and driving time combined. Between work times, the driver must have 10 hours of rest time.

These regulations are set in place to keep both the truck driver and other drivers safe on the road. Limiting the amount of time a truck driver operates and regulating the rest time both help to prevent truck driver fatigue. Truck driver fatigue causes many truck accidents every year. Regulations ensure that truck drivers log their time in a journal in order to track their work and rest time.

While these regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration should help to prevent death and injury caused by truck accidents, it will not eliminate them completely. Drivers need to be aware of the dangers posed by tractor-trailers. Serious injuries and deaths occur due to both driver error and equipment malfunction, to name a few.

Source: bls.gov, “Heavy and tractor trailer truck drivers,” accessed Dec. 14, 2014


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