How Long are Truck Drivers Allowed to Work?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has imposed regulations on how long a truck driver is allowed to work before they have to take a break. It has been a long-standing problem that truck drivers work too long before they take a break and sleep, and driver fatigue leads to an increase in accidents.
The Goals of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
It is a well-documented fact that tractor-trailers are involved in a large portion of accidents. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted the Hours of Service rules in an attempt to reduce the excessively long working hours that truck drivers often work. These rules and regulations were adopted as a result of an increase in fatigue-related crashes and also because of the long-term health problems that driving long hours can cause. As with any law, there is no way to enforce it before there is a violation, but what enacting rules and regulations like these can do is to ensure that driver will be more well-rested and to ensure that drivers have had enough time off so that they are able to obtain adequate rest on a daily and weekly basis.
In 2003 the hours-of-service (HOS) rule required that a driver reduces the amount of time that they drove to 14 consecutive hours. This time may seem absurd to a normal driver who could not imagine driving for that amount of time. In addition, the HOS rules increased the amount of time that a driver as required to be off duty from 8 hours to 10 hours.
Under the currently enacted Hours of Service Rules a driver must follow the following:
Start of work shift. A driver may not drive without first taking 10 consecutive hours off duty.
14-hour period. A driver may drive only during a period of 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty. The driver may not drive after the end of the 14-consecutive-hour period without first taking 10 consecutive hours off duty.
Driving time and rest breaks. (i) Driving time. A driver may drive a total of 11 hours during the 14-hour period specified in paragraph (a)(2) of this section.
Rest breaks. Except for drivers who qualify for either of the short-haul exceptions in § 395.1(e)(1) or (2), driving is not permitted if more than 8 hours have passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty or sleeper-berth period of at least 30 minutes.
Who Must Comply?
Some drivers may not be aware if they are required to comply with the hours of service regulations because of the amount that they drive, or because of the type of vehicle that they drive. Most drivers must follow the HOS Regulations if they drive a commercial motor vehicle or CMV.
In general, a CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business and is involved in interstate commerce and fits any of these descriptions:
- Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
- Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
- Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
- Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
- Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards
As defined in 49 CFR §390.5, a driver is anyone who gets behind the wheel of a “commercial motor vehicle.” So this means that for purposes of this act most people who drive a commercial vehicle should follow the rules and regulations.
What are the Penalties for Violating the Hours-Of-Service Rules?
Drivers or carriers who violate the hours-of-service rules face serious penalties depending on the severity of the offense and how many times this offense has occurred. Some of the penalties that a driver may face in the event that they are found to be in violation of the hours-of-service rules include:
- A driver may be placed out of service meaning they are required to shut down their truck on the side of the road until the driver has accumulated enough off-duty time so that they would be back in compliance with HOS rules;
- Both state and local enforcement officials may assess fines against the driver and the company;
- The driver’s and carrier’s scores under the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) enforcement program can face a decline, which could result in a variety of enforcement actions;
- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration may levy civil penalties on the driver or carrier, ranging from $1,000 to $11,000 per violation depending on the severity;
- The carrier’s safety rating can be downgraded for a pattern of violations; and
- Federal criminal penalties can be brought against carriers who knowingly and willfully allow or require hours-of-service violations.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has been focused on motor carrier safety and in light of remaining economically vital and productive, they have found that it is more important to the health, safety, and welfare of all drivers on the road to ensure that drivers have had enough sleep.
Contact Our 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyers today
Truck drivers have rights, and they are entitled to fight when those rights are violated. The Truck Accident team has nearly four decades of experience battling for victim’s rights in trucking accidents. Our attorneys have a profound knowledge of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations that govern commercial trucking and we rely on a highly qualified team of experts to help reconstruct accidents and prove negligence.
Contact The Truck Accident Team today to see how we can make our experience and expertise work for you. You only pay if we win and there’s a financial recovery. Call (215) 246-9000 or email us.