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Looking at the hours of service rules

Previously, we began looking at the issue of truck driver fatigue and the controversial 34-hour restart rule. As we noted last time, the controversy over the rule has not fully been resolved. For now, the “two periods” provision remains suspended, but that doesn’t mean it will remain suspended permanently.

The decision largely depends on what Congress decides with respect to research looking at the effectiveness of the rule. That research may take some time to show clear evidence either way. Meantime, truckers are bound to follow the other established hours of service rules.

In addition to the 34-hour restart rule, the other hours of service rules can be summarized as follows:

  • Required 10 consecutive hours between work periods
  • No driving more than 11 hours per work period
  • No driving at all beyond the 14th consecutive hour on duty
  • Required rest break of at least 30 minutes after 8 hours on duty
  • No driving after 60/70 hours on duty over 7/8 consecutive days

The above rules specifically apply to property-carrying drivers, and are slightly different from the rules that apply to passenger-carrying drivers. In addition there are special requirements which apply to drivers who use sleeper berths to take their rest breaks.

Again, the significance of the hours of service rules is that they are intended to ensure truckers are adequately rested on the job. When a trucker fails to abide by the rules and ends up harming other motorists as a result, accident victims have grounds to sue the trucker, and his or her employer, for damages. Working with an experienced attorney is important in such cases to ensure the accident victim’s rights and interests are zealously advocated.

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Hours of Service Rules Summary, Accessed Dec. 21, 2016. 

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