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Federal Trucking Hours of Service Regulations

Federal Trucking Hours of Service Regulations

A leading cause of truck accidents is trucker exhaustion and fatigue, which is most often caused by working excessively long hours. In order to discourage and prevent devastating collisions with smaller vehicles, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has implemented regulations that any commercial motor vehicle driver must follow, regardless of what state they are in. For the purpose of their rules, a commercial motor vehicle is any vehicle that:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more, on its own or with cargo.
  • Can transport 16 or more people not for compensation.
  • Can transport 9 or more people for compensation.
  • Transports hazardous materials in large quantities.

Federal limitations to hours of service include:

  • 11-hour driving limit: A commercial truck driver is not to drive more than 11 hours in one shift, which must begin after at least 10 hours of off-time.
  • 14-hour limit: Commercial drivers cannot drive after their 14th hour on one shift, which should have included at least 3 hours of time spent not driving.
  • Rest breaks: Driving is only permitted if the trucker has had a 30-minute break or full off-duty period within the last 8 hours; this rule does not apply to “short-haul” routes.
  • 60/70-hour limit: A driver must not drive their commercial vehicle after 60/70 hours on duty within 7/8 consecutive days; any break of 34 consecutive hours or more will reset the 60/70 hour limitation period.

Problems with FMCSA Regulations

Reviewing the basic federal hours of service regulations reveals a few distinct issues with them. Most notably, there is little the FMCSA can actually do to enforce their regulations. The administration relies on the honesty of truck drivers and their parent companies alike, which can be swept aside in the name of profits or meeting tight schedules.

Secondly, the current regulations are arguably too loose and still expose truckers to exhausting conditions. Most people who drive across their state, perhaps on business or a road trip, will admit to feeling tired after four or five hours. Truck drivers are expected to stay behind the wheel and fully alert for at least 11 hours, a feat that might not be physically possible.

The result is that many truck accidents are caused by tired truckers. If you have been in such a collision, you can contact Sette & Parnoff, PC for legal counsel. When you work with our Hamden truck accident attorneys, you could be rewarded with maximum compensation for your injuries, either through a settlement or verdict. Discover your options today by calling 203.285.3075.


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