Commercial trucks, commonly known as tractor-trailers, semi trailers, or 18-wheelers, present a unique risk to Florida drivers. As the biggest and heaviest vehicles on the road, they can cause substantial damage in an automobile accident. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, large trucks are involved in more than 8,000 injury accidents in Florida every year. Nationwide, as many as twenty-five percent of traffic fatalities in multi-vehicle accidents involve a large truck, with the occupants of the smaller vehicle most likely to suffer injury.
Truck Driver Fatigue and Crashes
Regulations Relating to Truck Driver Fatigue
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) imposes a number of restrictions on truck drivers and trucking companies to guard against truck driver fatigue. Truck drivers must maintain a commercial driver’s license that includes specific training and certification in matters unique to large commercial trucks.
The FMCSA imposes strict limits on the length of time a driver may be on the road without stopping to rest. For trucks carrying property, a driver must first have ten hours of rest, and then may only be on-duty for fourteen hours before resting for another ten. During the fourteen hours on-duty, the driver may only drive for eleven hours. For vehicles carrying passengers, the requirements are eight hours off-duty for every fifteen hours on-duty.
While Florida state law prohibits drivers from operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher, FMCSA regulations set the legal limit at half that amount. A truck driver with a BAC of .04 percent or higher may not drive a truck, and an employer with knowledge of a driver’s BAC may not allow them to drive.