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What Are the Hours of Service Regulations for Truck Drivers?

May 22 2024 | Truck Accidents

Commercial truck drivers have unique jobs, often with irregular schedules and long hours. The nature of a truck driving career lends itself to a high risk of drowsy and fatigued driving. A federal law known as the hours of service (HOS) regulations applies to truck drivers. Its goal is to reduce the risk of drowsy driving truck accidents by restricting how many hours a trucker is allowed to drive without taking a rest break.

The Basics of Federal HOS Regulations

Hours of service regulations for truck drivers are federal laws established to control the working hours of commercial truck drivers, with the aim of reducing the risk of fatigue-related truck accidents. Although the HOS rules are subject to change at any time, as of 2024, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) summarizes them in the following way:

Property-carrying drivers:

  • 11-hour maximum driving limit after 10 consecutive hours off-duty
  • 14-consecutive-hour limit after coming on-duty following 10 consecutive hours off-duty
  • 10-hour off-duty period may be split as long as one of the periods is at least 2 hours long and the other involves at least 7 consecutive hours spent in the sleeper berth
  • Mandatory 30-minute break after driving for a period of 8 cumulative hours without at least a 30-minute interruption
  • 60/70-hour maximum driving limit in 7/8 consecutive days

Passenger-carrying drivers:

  • 10-hour maximum driving limit after 8 consecutive hours off-duty
  • 15-consecutive-hour limit after coming on-duty following 8 consecutive hours off-duty
  • 8-hour off-duty period must be spent in the sleeper berth but may be split into two periods, provided neither period is less than 2 hours
  • No mandatory 30-minute break
  • 60/70-hour maximum driving limit in 7/8 consecutive days

There are limited exceptions to these rules, such as in adverse driving conditions. When adverse weather events such as snow, sleet or fog are encountered during a truck driver’s shift, the driver is permitted to extend the maximum driving limit of 14 or 15 hours by up to an additional 2 hours.

What Is the Significance of the Hours of Service Regulations?

Drowsy driving is a significant problem among commercial truck drivers. Case studies have reported that at least 13 percent of commercial motor vehicle drivers are fatigued at the time of their truck accidents. Drowsy driving is so prominent among truckers due to the unique requirements and nature of these jobs.

Long-haul trucking involves long hours on the road, typically alone. Many truck drivers work odd hours, such as overnight shifts. Sitting for long periods of time behind the wheel and failing to manage a healthy diet due to eating on the go can contribute to health problems and medical conditions that may also increase drowsiness, such as obesity, diabetes and sleep apnea.

The hours of service regulations by the FMCSA are an effort to reduce the number of drowsy and fatigued truck drivers on the road by making rest and sleeper berth breaks mandatory. Limiting the number of hours of service allowed can help prevent exhausted, overworked, and sleep-deprived truck drivers.

Injured by a Drowsy Truck Driver? Contact a Truck Accident Attorney

Truck drivers are responsible for adhering to the HOS requirements and accurately logging their work hours each day. If a truck driver violates the hours of service rules, the trucking company may be held responsible for a subsequent truck accident in Connecticut.

Trucking companies can be held vicariously responsible for the mistakes of their drivers due to the employer-employee relationship. However, they can also be held directly liable for their own negligence, such as pressuring truck drivers to exceed the HOS restrictions.

To find out if you have grounds to file an injury claim against a trucking company for your recent drowsy driving truck accident in Connecticut, contact the truck accident attorneys at Jacobs & Jacobs to request a free consultation.

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