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Commercial Truck Hours of Service Regulations (FMCSA)

Because drowsy driving is similar to drunk driving, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has passed rules to regulate how many hours a trucker can drive in certain intervals. These rules are known as the Hours of Service regulations. While these rules were put in place to protect public safety, some truck drivers blatantly violate them so they can deliver their loads faster and get paid more. Some trucking companies even encourage this or falsify records to cover it up.

Here is what you need to know about Hours of Service regulations and how they may impact your truck accident case. These can also be discussed with your truck accident attorney.

Maximum Amount of Drive Time

The primary purpose of the Hours of Service rules is to set a limit on how many hours a truck driver can work so that they are not fatigued while operating a large, dangerous commercial vehicle. There are several rules regarding the hours a trucker can drive:

  • 11-hour driving limit – Truckers subject to the FMCSA are prohibited from driving more than 11 hours within a 24-hour timeframe. After driving for 11 hours, a trucker must take a 10-hour consecutive break.
  • 14-hour limit – Drivers cannot be on duty for more than 14 hours a day. So, besides driving, truckers may log other time while they inspect the vehicle, check loads, wait on cargo to be loaded, and perform other job duties, but they cannot exceed 14 hours of on-duty time in a day.
  • 60/70 hour limit – Truck drivers carrying freight cannot drive more than 60 hours in a seven-day workweek or 70 hours in an eight-day workweek. Drivers must take a 34-hour consecutive break before they can restart time for the next week.

The FMCSA also sets rules regarding breaks.

Number and Length of Breaks

The FMCSA Hours of Service guidelines also establish the number, length, and frequency of truck driver breaks, as follows:

  • 30-minute driving break – Truckers must take a break of at least 30 minutes after driving for 8 hours. This break can be fulfilled by other on-duty non-driving activities.
  • 10-hour consecutive break – After driving for 11 hours, the trucker must take a 10-hour consecutive break.
  • 34—hour consecutive break– After meeting their 60/70 driving hours limit in a 7/8 workweek, truckers must take a 34-hour consecutive break.

There are exceptions to these rules, such as sleeping berth and short-haul provisions. Truck drivers could also be working on recap hours or might not be subject to the Hours of Service rules, so it’s important to work with an attorney who is familiar with these rules and how they can impact your truck accident claim.

How Hours of Service Are Monitored

Truck drivers are required to log their hours to show they are complying with these regulations. Trucking companies today use electronic logging systems. These systems use GPS tracking capabilities to begin a driver’s time once the vehicle starts moving. They track total drive time, the route the driver takes, and their breaks. Some of these systems integrate with a mobile app. However, trucking companies are ultimately responsible for monitoring and enforcing Hours of Service regulations.

Contact The Doan Law Firm for a Free Case Evaluation

If you or a loved one was injured by a truck driver who may have been violating the Hours of Service rules, contact us. At The Doan Law Firm, we offer a free, no-obligation case review.

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