Every aspect of commercial truck driving is strictly regulated at the federal and state levels, including how many hours a truck driver can operate during a workday and during an overall workweek. These hours of service are set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the US Department of Transportation, to help prevent fatigued driving on the roadways. When a driver exceeds these hours and causes a collision, there may be grounds for a Houston truck accident lawsuit.
FMCSA Hours of Service for Truck Drivers
Truck drivers in Texas who operate across state lines, which is the majority of commercial truckers in the state, must abide by the hours of service set forth by the FMCSA. This DOT federal regulatory agency establishes hours of service for commercial truck drivers and commercial bus drivers throughout the country. Any violation of the hours of service could result in major monetary fines for a driver and the company they work for, as well as a suspension of a driver’s commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Hours of service for commercial truck drivers are designed around daily limits as well as weekly hourly limits.
During a workday, drivers can operate for 14 total on-duty hours
11 hours can be spent driving out of this 14-hour window
Drivers can only start their 14 and 11-hour limits after taking 10 consecutive hours off duty
During a workday, drivers must take a 30-minute driving break if they have driven for more than eight cumulative hours
Drivers can operate for 60 hours during a seven day work week
Drivers can operate for 70 hours during an 8-day workweek
Work weeks can be reset if a driver takes 34 or more consecutive hours off duty
Drivers may occasionally extend the 11-hour maximum driving time and the overall 14-hour daily window by up to two hours if they encounter adverse conditions when driving. Additionally, there are some short-haul exceptions for drivers that could change the total hours of service for a day and a week.
Why This Matter After an Accident Occurs
The hours of service requirements are important after any incident involving a larger commercial truck on the roadways. If a collision occurs that causes injuries or property damage to any other parties, victims may be able to recover compensation. As part of the process to determine liability, an investigation will be conducted into every aspect of the claim. This includes maintenance of the vehicle, the actions of the driver when the incident occurred, examining truck black box data, and looking at the driver’s hours of service.
If an investigation uncovers violations of the hours of service requirements, this may be used against the driver and the trucking company to help the victim(s) recover compensation for their losses. Hours of surveillance could uncover further evidence of negligence, but more importantly, these types of violations could lead to the discovery of fatigued driving.
If you or somebody you care about has been harmed due to the negligent actions of a truck driver or trucking company in Texas, we encourage you to contact an attorney for assistance as soon as possible. These claims are challenging, and going up against trucking companies and insurance carriers is daunting. When you have a legal advocate by your side, you will have someone ready to represent you every step of the way.