People in New Jersey may already know that drivers of semi-trucks must follow federal regulations that dictate how long they can be on the road before having to take a rest break. These “hours of service” regulations are meant to prevent drowsy driving. They are especially important because the sheer size difference between a semi-truck and a standard automobile is so great that, if the trucker falls asleep behind the wheel and causes a commercial vehicle accident, it is the occupants of the other vehicle that can wind up seriously injured or even killed.
However, what New Jersey residents may not know is that hours of service rules also apply to passenger-carrying drivers, such as bus drivers. However, the rules for passenger-carrying drivers differ slightly from those property-carrying drivers must follow.
First, bus drivers can only drive a maximum of 10 hours if the have spent eight hours in a row off duty. In addition, bus drivers cannot operate their vehicles after having been on duty for 15 hours after having spent eight hours in a row off duty. On-duty time includes time spent performing job tasks other than just the task of driving. Bus drivers are not permitted to operate their vehicles after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 days in a row. Finally, bus drivers utilizing the vehicle’s sleeper berth must spend a minimum of eight hours in the sleeper berth, but may split this time period in two, if each period is at least two hours long.
Bus accidents can be especially tragic not just for the occupants of the vehicle that was struck by the bus, but also for the passengers on the bus who could also be injured or killed. In the end, while regulations are in place to prevent commercial vehicle accidents caused by drowsy driving, there will always be truckers and bus drivers who ignore these rules and drive while fatigued. If a person is involved in a commercial vehicle accident involving a fatigued driver, that person may want to determine if they can bring a legal claim against the responsible parties in order to pursue compensation for the damages they suffered.