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Truck driver fatigue and the Hours of Service rules, P.1

Driver fatigue is not an uncommon problem among drivers in general, and truck drivers in particular. Because of long hours on the road and the pressure to maximize productivity, truck drivers often find themselves behind the wheel with less than adequately rested.

Truck drivers and their employers are bound to comply with federal regulations concerning rest breaks and driving time limits. These rules are known as the Hours of Service rules. When violation of these rules contributes to a motor vehicle accident, accident victims can use the violations as evidence of negligence. 

The Hours of Service rules, which are enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, vary slightly for property-carrying commercial vehicles drivers and passenger-carrying commercial vehicle drivers. The rules include the following prohibitions and requirements:

  • No driving for more than 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty
  • Required rest break of at least 30 minutes after 8 hours on duty
  • No driving at all after the 14th consecutive hour on duty
  • No driving after a total of 60 or 70 hours on duty over a period of 7 or 8 days—this period may be restarted by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off duty

The 34-hour restart rule used to include a provision which required truckers to take two rest periods between one and five o’clock in the morning, but that measure was suspended in 2015 in response to heavy lobbying from the trucking industry.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this issue, and the importance of working with an experienced personal injury attorney to seek compensation following a motor vehicle accident involving a truck or commercial motor vehicle driver. 

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