How Many Hours Can a Truck Driver Work Consecutively?
Drowsy or fatigued driving is one of the leading causes of accidents in the United States. Because of this, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued HOS regulations that restrict the consecutive number of hours a truck driver can be on the road, requiring trucking companies to monitor these hours and keep detailed records, in order to help stop a truck accident from occurring.
Driver fatigue is a major concern for truck drivers across the country. In fact, according to the FMCSA, about 65 percent of truck drivers report they sometimes or often feel drowsy while driving. Nearly half of all truck drivers even admit they have fallen asleep while driving in the past year. Truck accidents can lead to devastating consequences, serious injuries, and death.
The FMCSA created HOS regulations to prevent drowsy driving accidents, including:
- 11-hour driving limit: Drivers may drive a maximum of 11 hours after being off duty for 10 consecutive hours.
- 14-hour total limit: Drivers cannot drive more than 14 consecutive hours, including on-duty time, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour limit. Once the 14-hour limit is reached, a driver must take a 10-hour consecutive break.
- 30-minute break: Drivers must take a 30-minute break for every eight cumulative hours of driving.
- 60/70 rule: Drivers can be on duty for a maximum of 60 hours in one seven-day period or 70 hours in one eight-day period. Drivers may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty within seven/eight consecutive days. The driver may restart a seven/eight-day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off-duty.
- Adverse driving conditions: Drivers are able to extend the 11-hour maximum driving limit and 14-hour window by up to two hours if in adverse driving conditions. Adverse driving conditions must not have been known at the start of the run and include snow, sleet, ice, fog, or unusual road and traffic conditions.
Drivers and their trucking company must keep a record of their duty status and must be in the driver’s own handwriting and signature. Drivers can use an electronic logging device for timekeeping, which their carriers can utilize to log and track their hours. The driver must keep track of items such as total driving time, time on duty, time spent in sleeper berth, miles travelled, and details of what is being shipped. The FMCSA uses this mandate to ensure compliance and improve safety as well as efficiency.
Carriers that must comply with the HOS regulations are those that operate commercial motor vehicles. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, a commercial motor vehicle is a vehicle that:
- Is used as part of a business and is involved in interstate commerce.
- Weighs more than 10,000 pounds or has a gross vehicle weight rating of at least 10,000 pounds.
- Transports materials that require placards or hazardous materials.
- Is designed or used to transport nine or more passengers for compensation, including the driver.
Penalties for Violating FMCSA Regulations
Not only does violating FMCSA regulations increase the chances of a major truck accident, but there are penalties that can be imposed on both the driver and carrier. These penalties can include:
- Civil penalties.
- Drivers can be put on roadside shutdown.
- Fines from local and state government.
- Reduction in safety rating.
- Federal criminal penalties if willingly violating guidelines.
Washington DC Truck Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Help Clients Who Have Been Injured by Drowsy Truck Drivers
If you have been injured by a fatigued truck driver, speak with our Washington DC truck accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King. Call us at 202-331-1963 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Washington, D.C., Alexandria, and Falls Church, Virginia, we serve clients in Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.