The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the operations of commercial drivers across the United States. All commercial truck drivers must follow FMCSA rules regardless of which state they live in or are traveling through. One of these rules is the truck driver hours of service regulation which dictates how long a trucker can be on-duty before he must take a mandatory break and rest.
Federal Hours of Service Limits
The hours of service rules vary between property-carrying and passenger-carrying trucks. The following hour limits apply to property-carrying truck drivers:
- Truckers may only drive for 11 hours after spending 10 successive hours off duty.
- Truckers may not drive beyond 14 consecutive hours after going on duty following a 10-hour off duty period.
- Truckers may only drive only if it has been eight hours or less since the end of their last off duty or sleeper berth period which must have lasted at least 30 minutes.
- Truckers may only spend 60/70 hours on duty in seven/eight consecutive days before they must rest.
- A driver may start a seven/eight consecutive day period after he has spent 34 or more successive hours off duty.
A “sleeper berth” provision exists that allows a truck driver to take eight consecutive hours in the sleeper berth (the sleeping quarters in a semi cab) plus two separate and consecutive hours either in the berth, off duty, or a combination thereof. This provision replaces the 11-hour rule.
A trucker must record his hours of service either automatically through on-board electronic devices known as electronic logbooks or by hand in a written log book. You may be able to use these logs as evidence to prove liability in your accident.
The Importance of Hours of Service Limits and Violation Consequences
FMCSA imposes hours of service limits on truck drivers to reduce the risk of truckers driving while fatigued or falling asleep at the wheel. Taking adequate rest periods between constant driving helps a driver resume his trip refreshed, alert, and better equipped to maneuver a large truck.
Drivers who violate the hours of service limits can face federal fines and even a suspension of their commercial license. More importantly, violating the requirements can lead to drowsy truck drivers that are more prone to causing accidents. If this occurs, both the truck driver and his employing company could be liable for damages he caused in the accident.
Montero Law Center Can Help You Preserve Your Right to File a Truck Accident Claim
It is important to note that a trucking company only has to keep a truck driver’s hours of service records for six months. After that period, the company can legally destroy them, which is why it is imperative to work quickly.
The attorneys at Montero Law can step in to prevent this from happening by filing a letter of spoliation which requires that the trucking company hold records pertinent to the accident until you settle the case.
Call 954-767-6500 or fill out our contact form to tell us more about your truck accident. We can schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal options for recovering compensation from the truck driver and/or trucking company.