As previous posts on this blog have discussed, truck driver fatigue is a serious concern in Massachusetts. While it is never a good idea for any driver to try to operate a vehicle while too tired to do so, it is particularly dangerous among truckers since the size of a large commercial vehicle is so much greater than that of a passenger car.

Given this size difference, involving fatigued drivers tend to be quite serious, leaving average residents of Salem who may have been traveling on Interstate 95 seriously injured or even dead.

For this reason, the federal government has certain rules in place that require truckers to take an extended break every so often when they are on the road. The idea behind this requirement is to make sure that truckers at least have the opportunity to get some sleep, so they can drive safely.

Specifically, a trucker who is carrying property has to stop for 10 hours after driving for 11 hours. Because the 11 hours do not include short breaks, however, a separate rule requires that drivers make a stop for 10 hours after 14 hours on the clock, even if some of these hours included bathroom breaks and fuel stops.

Slightly different rules apply to bus drivers and others who transport passengers for a living. Weekly limits also apply, which means that after a certain amount of driving in a given week, a driver has to take about a day and a half off.

Truckers who choose to ignore these rules may face fines and other penalties. Additionally, if they cause an accident, their violation of these rules can be used as a way of proving their negligence.