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Understanding hours-of-service regulations for truck drivers

On Behalf of | Apr 7, 2020 | Firm News

It may be easy for people in Liberty to see the massive semi-trucks traveling along local roads and highways and feel intimidated by their sheer size. Yet that intimidation is often tempered by the assumption that those operating these trucks are highly skilled. 

Regardless of how skilled a truck driver may be, however, several hours behind the wheel (which describes a trucker’s typical day) can cause anyone to become fatigued. For this reason, federal regulations are in place to help prevent truck drivers from becoming drowsy during their routes.

Working hour regulations 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration lists a summary of these regulations on its website. They include: 

  • A truck driver cannot drive for more than eight hours before taking a break (of at least 30 minutes) 
  • A truck driver can only drive a maximum of 11 hours during a single work shift 
  • A truck driver can only drive a maximum of 60-70 hours during a single workweek (7-8 consecutive days) 
  • A truck driver cannot drive past the fourteenth hour of a single work shift 

Per these regulations, breaks of 10 and 36 consecutive hours reset a work shift and a workweek, respectively. 

Truckers must also keep work logs detailing their time behind the wheel. These should be available for review immediately upon request (like in the aftermath of an accident). 

Who must follow these regulations? 

Per the FMCSA, vehicles with an overall or gross vehicular weight of over 10,001 must follow these regulations. The same is true for any vehicle that transports hazardous materials in quantities that require placards. The regulations do not apply in all situations, however. Drivers working within a certain distance of their base of operations may not have to adhere to them. There may also be circumstances where authorities may suspend them (such as during national emergencies).