How Many Hours Can Truck Drivers Work?

Understanding Hours-of-Service & How Long Truckers Can Be on the Road

Because fatigued truck driving is a leading cause of truck accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) established hours-of-service regulations. These rules restrict the number of hours that a commercial truck driver can be on the road during defined stretches of time, and they require truckers and trucking companies to keep detailed records of these hours for review if necessary.

Under the current hours-of-service regulations, a trucker can be on the road for:

  • No more than 11 hours of daily driving with a 14-hour work day cap
  • No more than a minimum average of 70 hours a work week
  • If the weekly limit is reached, they can continue after 34 hours of consecutive rest

Truckers are also required to take at least a 30-minute break within the first 8 hours of their shift. These regulations have been formulated by scientific testing to guarantee as far as possible that drivers have the necessary rest in order to drive without fatigue. While there are certain exceptions to the HOS regulations, it in a truckers best interests to adhere to these rules to avoid dangerous accidents or mistakes.

Common Causes of Truck Accidents

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Who Must Comply with These Regulations?

Most truck drivers and commercial motor vehicle drivers are required to comply with these regulations.

Generally speaking, federal HOS regulations apply to truck drivers operating large trucks that:

  • Weigh more than 10,000 pounds;
  • Have a gross vehicle weight rating of at least 10,000 pounds;
  • Transport materials in a quantity requiring placards; or
  • Transport materials involved in either interstate commerce.

Truckers are required by law to keep a log for recording their hours. Any person subject to these regulations must complete this log every day of driving. Unfortunately, logbooks can be fabricated, falsified, or altered by truckers who violate the regulations, making it difficult to keep track of the amount of rest drivers actually get. Numerous trucking accidents that have been revealed to be caused by a driver who was simply on the road far too long. In these cases, the trucker can be held liable, as well as the trucking company if it can be proved that they encouraged the driver to violate the hours-of-service regulations in order to meet a deadline or were negligent.

The Issue of Fatigue & Drowsy Driving

The serious issue of drowsy driving is the exact reason that the FMCSA implemented the hours-of-service regulations. According to statistics, fatigued drivers directly cause around 15% of all accidents and are often linked to more than 750 deaths and 20,000 injuries each year. Reports show that the risk of getting into an accident increases dramatically when an individual has been driving for 10 or more consecutive hours. This is often most common for commercial drivers, who are on the road for a living and always striving to meet their deadlines.

These are staggering numbers that underline the severe problem of exhausted truck drivers. Still, the FMCSA is pushing to increase the amount of time that truckers can spend behind the wheel. This is despite the fact that 80% of polled individuals stated they believe tired truck drivers pose a serious danger on the road.

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