Understanding the Hours of Service Regulations for Truck Drivers

Truck Accident Broken WindshieldState and federal laws apply to commercial truck drivers to try to minimize the number of accidents caused by fatigued driving. Federal hours of service regulations limit the amount of time that a truck driver can drive before he or she is required to take a break. If truck drivers or trucking companies violate these rules, it could increase the chances of a serious accident. If you can prove hours of service rules were violated, the driver or his or her employer could be held liable.

If you were injured in a truck accident and believe that fatigued driving may have played a part, do not hesitate to contact a knowledgeable Knoxville truck accident lawyer. Greg Coleman Law provides accident victims with trusted legal representation and a free consultation to determine if the defendant is liable for damages.

What are the Hours of Service Rules?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) established the hours of service rules to set limits on the amount of time a truck driver can operate a commercial truck during a shift. There are various rules and they vary slightly depending on whether the truck is transporting property or passengers.

Property-Carrying Drivers

Drivers who are carrying property have certain rules on how many hours they can drive:

  • Weekly maximum – Truck drivers are limited to driving a maximum of 60 hours in a consecutive seven-day period or no more than 70 hours in an eight-day period.
  • Daily maximum – Truck drivers can drive no more than 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • Time off duty – A new seven or eight consecutive day period begins after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
  • Required breaks – Truck drivers must take a break for at least 30 minutes after they have driven for eight hours in a row.

Passenger-Carrying Drivers 

For drivers who are transporting passengers, the following hours of service rules apply:

  • Weekly maximum – Truck drivers are limited to driving a maximum of 60 hours in a consecutive seven-day period or no more than 70 hours in an eight-day period.
  • Daily maximum – Truck drivers can drive no more than 10 hours after eight consecutive hours off duty.
  • Off-duty hours – Drivers cannot drive if they have been on duty for 15 hours after being off for 8 straight hours. However, the 15-hour period does not include off-duty time.

Who Must Comply with These Regulations?

The FMCSA oversees many parties involved in the trucking industry and its rules apply to truck drivers, as well as trucking companies.

Many truck drivers are paid per mile they drive or load they carry. Unfortunately, this creates an incentive for them to travel more miles and take fewer breaks. However, the FMCSA recognizes the danger fatigued drivers present to other motorists. If a trucking company is found to have encouraged drivers to avoid the hours of service rules, it can be held liable for damages stemming from a truck accident.

Truck drivers are required to keep an accurate log book detailing their miles and hours worked. An experienced truck accident lawyer can try to obtain a copy of this important evidence to determine if and when regulations were violated.

Contact One of Our Knoxville Attorneys Today

Truck accidents often cause serious and life-altering injuries. These injuries may require extensive medical treatment and create serious financial burdens and pain and suffering.

If you were injured in a truck accident, the compassionate truck accident attorneys at Greg Coleman Law can help. We understand what you are going through and will work diligently to fight for the compensation you deserve after negligent trucking companies disregard safety rules in the interest of greater profits.

We provide a free, no-obligation consultation to potential clients to determine if you may have a case against the truck driver or trucking company. Our services are provided on a contingency fee basis, meaning that we charge no upfront costs and only get paid for our services if we successfully secure compensation on your behalf.

Call our firm today at (865) 247-0080