Hours-of-Service Regulations Aim to Keep All Drivers Safe

Gabriel A. Assaad
Partner Gabriel Assaad represents victims of negligence and medical malpractice nationwide.

The life of a truck driver is often filled with long hours, little sleep, and lots of hard work. Some drivers have been known to work for 24 hours straightTruck Driver in a White Truck Cab—or longer—with minimal breaks and no sleep. These long hours and impossible schedules are often due to employer demands and tight time schedules.

Working for many consecutive hours while under these types of conditions is dangerous, which was made extremely evident when actor Tracy Morgan was severely injured after the limo he was traveling in was hit by a tractor-trailer. Morgan suffered numerous injuries, and his close friend who was in the vehicle with him, lost his life because of the crash. During the investigation, it was revealed that the truck driver who caused the accident had been awake for over 24 hours.

Who Is Affected by Hours-of-Service Regulations?

Truck drivers operate massive vehicles that can become dangerous and end lives if involved in accidents. For this reason, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration created hours-of-service regulations, which are rules regarding how long truck drivers can operate their vehicles and how many breaks they are required to receive.

Most drivers of commercial motor vehicles are required to abide by these regulations. In general, a commercial motor vehicle is a vehicle that is used as part of a business and is involved in interstate commerce. A commercial motor vehicle fits any of the following descriptions:

  • Is designed or used to transport nine or more passengers, including the driver, for compensation.

  • Weighs 10,001 lbs. or more.

  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards.

  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, not for compensation.

  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rate of 10,001 lbs. or more.

Hours-of-Service Regulations for Drivers Aim to Keep Those on the Road Safe

Property-carrying and passenger-carrying drivers are required to follow rules regarding work hours; however, the hours differ from each other. Here, we break down the rules the truckers are supposed to follow.

Property-Carrying Drivers

Property-carrying drivers, or those who operate vehicles that contain materials, are required to follow these regulations, as part of the Hours-of-Service regulations:

  • Drivers may only drive a maximum of 11 hours after having a consecutive 10 hours off duty.

  • Drivers may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Additionally, off duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.

  • Drivers can only get behind the wheel if eight hours or less have passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30 minutes. However, this rule does not apply to drivers using either of the exceptions in 395.1(e) in the Hours-of-Service regulations.

  • Drivers may not operate their vehicles after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. However, a driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.

  • Drivers using the sleep berth provision must take at least eight consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus take a separate two consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or any combination of the two.

Passenger-Carrying Drivers

Passenger-carrying drivers operate buses and other vehicles that transport passengers. The hours-of-service regulations pertaining to these drivers include:

  • Drivers may operate their vehicles a maximum of 10 hours after eight consecutive hours off duty.

  • Drivers may not drive after having been on duty for 15 hours, following a consecutive eight hours of off duty. Off-duty time is not included in the 15-hour period.

  • Drivers may not operate their vehicles after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days.

  • Drivers using sleeper berths must take at least eight hours in the sleeper berths, and may split the sleeper berth time into two periods, provided neither is less than two hours.

Hours-of-Service Regulations Can’t Always Offer Protection

Despite these regulations, some truck drivers still work too long and on too little sleep, which can put all drivers on the road in danger. If you were injured in a truck accident, the attorneys at Kennedy Hodges, LLP, may be able to help. Schedule your free consultation with one of our attorneys by calling 855-947-0707 to find out how we may be able to help you.