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Federal regulations and trucking accidents: a brief look at the Hours of Service rules

In any motor vehicle accident case, it is critical for the accident victim to carefully investigate the evidence, identify all potentially liable parties, and gather as much evidence as possible demonstrating their role in causing the accident. When it comes to trucking accidents, there are a number of things that can be contributing factors to a crash.

One trucking accident-related issue that has gotten a fair amount of attention in recent years is driver fatigue. It isn’t only a problem among truckers, but because of the long hours truckers spend on the road and the heavy emphasis the industry puts on productivity, truck drivers are particularly prone to driving while fatigued. One of the ways the federal government has sought to reduce truck driver fatigue is through the so-called Hours of Service rules, which are enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. 

The Hours of Service rules vary slightly for property-carrying drivers and passenger-carrying drivers. For the former, there is: a “daily” behind-the-wheel limit of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty; a restriction on all driving after 14 consecutive hours on duty; a required rest break of at least 30 minutes after eight hours on duty, with certain exceptions; and a “weekly” driving limit of 60/70 hours over 7/8 consecutive days.

The weekly driving period can be restarted by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off duty. Prior to 2015, truck drivers were also required to include within their 34 hours off duty two rest periods between one and five o’clock in the morning, but that provision was suspended based on heavy lobbying from the trucking industry.

We’ll say more about recent developments on this issue in our next post, and about the valuable role of an experienced attorney in seeking compensation for injuries and losses after a truck driving accident. 

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