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Hitting the brakes: truck drivers and drowsy driving

How often should truck drivers receive breaks during shifts? This seems to be an ongoing debate within the semi truck driving industry. While other fields generally contain set work schedules with breaks throughout the day, truckers often do not have this advantage. It is common for Missouri truck drivers to exchange sleep for long and excruciating hours on the road.

Currently, nationwide regulations exist when it comes to the requirement of breaks in the trucking industry. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration notes in a brochure on trucking hours of service that a primary concern in the industry involves keeping fatigued drivers off the road. With that said, truckers are usually only allowed to drive up to 11 total hours, with a required 30 minute minimum break every eight hours. The FMCSA explains that truckers must be off duty for 10 consecutive hours after they have driven the driving limit of 11 hours. Further details apply to these 30 minute rest breaks and to other aspects of driving limits.

Despite driving laws, thousands of truck drivers hit the roads having had very little rest. As one article from Trucking Truth points out, fatigued truck driving happens more often than one would like to think. The article goes on to share that when truckers desire a set number of miles each week, they must be available at very specific times. Even though most truckers remain within federal driving limits, their sleep cycles are compromised when they attempt to drive during specific hours of the day. Sometimes, deliveries simply cannot wait, with some arriving in the wee hours of the morning, and others arriving later in the evenings. This inevitably creates a rocky sleep schedule for employees. Mandatory truck driving hours and breaks may aim to protect employees, but countless truck drivers across the nation nevertheless struggle to remain alert on the job.  



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