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Good Question: What Regulations Do Truck Drivers Have To Follow?

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(credit: CBS) Jennifer Mayerle
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The truck driver accused of causing the deadly crash that critically injured actor Tracy Morgan reportedly hadn’t slept for more than 24 hours before the accident. Investigators say the Wal-Mart truck driver failed to slow down for traffic in New Jersey early Saturday, tried to swerve at the last minute and smashed into the back of Morgan’s limo bus.

There are 183,000 registered trucks in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Trucking Association. Even more drive through our state daily.

So what regulations do truck drivers have to follow?

The federal government regulates truck drivers. There are strict rules about how many hours one can drive versus how many they have to rest.

John Hausladen, the president of Minnesota Trucking Association, said truck drivers have to follow daily and weekly limits.

“They can be on duty for a total of 14 hours,” he said. “Of those, they can drive up to 11. After they’ve hit that 14th hour, they must take 10 consecutive hours off.”

New federal regulations went into effect last July, which reduced the number of hours a driver could work per week from 82 hours to 70.

“Truck drivers can drive a max of 60 hours in 7 days, or 70 hours in 8 days,” Hausladen said. “That total just keeps rolling forward, and when they hit their max they have to take time off.”

Drivers are required to keep a record log.

“Those totals are captured, they are sent to the trucking company,” Hausladen said. “They maintain those totals. Then the federal government can audit those. So companies must always prove their drivers are staying in compliance with the regulation.”

And a driver might run into a random or planned roadside inspection.

Companies have been caught and fined for violating the rules. This year the Department of Transportation proposed more changes. They’d like to do away with the paper logs drivers keep and instead require trucking companies to use electronic logs. The idea behind that is the electronic logs will be easier to keep track of and would increase compliance while reducing violations.

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