Truck drivers spend long hours on the road behind the wheel of massive trucks. Some even travel hundreds of miles in one sitting. Handling a truck or semi-truck can take a physical and mental toll over prolonged hours, impairing the driver’s driving ability.
When fatigue sets in, a driver is prone to making many mistakes, leading to severe road accidents. According to the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, fatigued drivers cause about 13% of commercial truck accidents.
Although the FMCSA has set hours-of-service rules to prevent truckers from driving when tired, not all drivers follow them.
Hours of Service Rules for Truck Drivers
The FMCSA came up with hours-of-service regulations that control the number of hours truck drivers can drive and work a day and week. The goal is to reduce driver drowsiness and fatigue. All commercial truckers are required to adhere to these HOS rules to remain compliant.
The 14/15-hour Rule
A property-carrying commercial truck driver cannot drive and work over 14 consecutive hours after logging in for duty. Also, they should take 10 consecutive hours off duty after their shift before getting behind the truck’s wheel again.
Passenger-carrying drivers have a 15-hour limit on their consecutive driving and working hours. They must take 8 consecutive hours off-duty before they can drive the truck again. Moreover, truckers cannot extend their work hours with off-duty time, including fuel stops, meals, and breaks.
If a driver logs in at 6 am, their shift should end at 8 pm or 9 pm for property and passenger-carrying drivers, respectively.
11/10-hour Driving Rules
Property-carrying commercial truck drivers can only drive for a maximum of 11 hours following 10 hours off duty within a 14-hour shift. For a passenger-carrying truck driver, the limit is 10 hours of driving following 8 hours off duty within a 15-hour shift.
30-minute driving breaks
Truck drivers should take a 30-minute break after driving for 8 hours without a half-hour interruption. The break can be in different forms, including sleeper berth, being off-duty or on-duty but not driving.
Truck drivers cannot drive after 60 or 70 hours on duty within seven or eight consecutive days. The consecutive day period can be reset after taking 34 consecutive hours off duty.
Sleeper Berth Provision
A property-carrying commercial truck driver can split their 10-hour off-duty time provided one off-duty session is 2 hours long and the other is 7+ hours in a sleeper berth. The two periods must add up to 10+ hours.
For a passenger-carrying driver, the sleeper berth period should be 8 hours long. While you can split it into two periods, none should be less than 2 hours, and they should add up to 8+ hours.
Adverse driving conditions
A truck driver can extend the 10/11-hour maximum driving limit and the 14/15-hour on-duty limit by 2 hours during adverse driving conditions. This rule applies only if:
- The adverse driving conditions count have been known before the drive started
- The driver couldn’t have predicted the adverse conditions through trip planning or common sense
The FMCSA Truck Driver Hours of Service regulations require truck drivers to maintain a logbook that records their off and on-duty driving time. In addition to this, they should document the operating conditions of their truck’s equipment and vehicles, including:
- Steering mechanisms
- Cargo doors
- Load securing equipment
- Coupling devices
- Windshield wipers
However, truck drivers are paid per mile instead of per hour, so to make more money, one has to cover more miles. Also, truck drivers aren’t compensated for time spent not driving, and trucking companies pressure them to meet tight deadlines, conditions that often lead to speeding and violating HOS rules.
To hide the HOS violations, some truck drivers falsify log books, including:
- Claiming they were off-duty or in the sleeper while, in truth, they were loading/unloading fuel, driving to their next location, or going through an inspection.
- Creating a fake model log book to present to their inspectors but not filling out information daily as required
- Temporarily disconnecting the EOBR models or blocking the signal to prevent data recording
Although a driver may make more money, they run the risk of fatigue and causing an accident, opening up their company to lawsuits.
Trust Elrod Pope Law Firm to Investigate Truck Driver Hour Violations
If you or a family member were injured in a truck accident, call our experienced truck accident lawyers to investigate if the driver was drowsy, fatigued, or negligent.
We’ll achieve this by reviewing electronic data logs (EDLs), cellphone records, GPS data, maintenance records, inspection records, receipts, and timestamped bills of lading. The evidence we find could help you get fair compensation for your losses and injuries sustained from the truck accident caused by a drowsy or fatigued driver.
Truck Accident FAQs
Do local truck drivers have to keep a logbook?
Every truck driver should maintain a logbook every day unless they return to the office within 12 hours or stay within a 100-mile radius of the office.
Is truck driver fatigue similar to a DUI?
A fatigued and sleep-deprived driver shows symptoms similar to those of a driver driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Twenty-four hours of sleep deprivation causes impairment similar to a 0.10% BAC level which is over the legal limit.