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What are the hours of service rules and why do they matter?

Posted on January 15, 2016

Truck safety is an important issue when it comes to improving overall highway safety. Regulation of the trucking industry is aimed at addressing safety issues that are unique to commercial vehicle drivers. Among these issues is driver fatigue caused by long hours on the road with inadequate rest.

At the federal level, truck driver fatigue is addressed in the so-called hours of service rules. These rules apply to both property-carrying drivers and passenger-carrying drivers, but the rules are slightly different for each category. Here, we’ll look at the former for the sake of simplicity.

Under the hours of service rules, truck drivers may not drive for more than a total of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours on duty, and they may not drive at all beyond the 14th consecutive hour on duty, regardless of their total driving time. A rest break of at least 30 minutes must be taken every eight hours. Truckers may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty over 7/8/ consecutive days. A trucker may restart the work week by taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty. Truckers who use a sleeper birth to take their rest must take at least eight consecutive hours in the sleeper birth, as well as two consecutive hours in the berth, off duty, or some combination of the two.

Truckers are required to record compliance with these rules, and failure to do so can result in penalties. For those who have been harmed by a trucker in violation of the hours of service rules, or any other rules or regulations, can use these violations to build a case for negligence in court. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney is essential, though, to ensure that one builds the strongest possible case.