Driver fatigue causes over 100,000 accidents every year. When those accidents involve semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, or other commercial vehicles, catastrophic injuries often result.
To promote safety and protect drivers on the highway, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), which regulates commercial truck drivers, has enacted rules that limit the number of truck driving hours a commercial driver can be on the road. Commonly known as the hours of service rules, they promote safety on American highways and allow truck drivers to make a living without putting their lives and the lives of others at risk.
Unfortunately, some trucking companies place profits over people and skirt the rules to gain a competitive advantage. To deliver loads faster than other trucking companies and at a lower price, they ask drivers to ignore hours of service rules, which can lead to catastrophic accidents caused by driver fatigue.
If you were injured or someone you love was killed in a trucking accident, driver fatigue may have been a factor. The experienced truck accident injury lawyers at Muth Law, P.C., will analyze the accident and identify possible causes. Our investigation will include requesting and reviewing electronic logging devices, known as ELDs, for information about the truck driver’s activities in the days, hours, and minutes leading up to the crash to determine whether they were in compliance with federal hours of service rules.
How Long Can a Truck Driver Drive?
When it comes to the federal hours of service rules, there are two timeframes that truck drivers and trucking companies must consider.
The 11-Hour Rule. A commercial truck driver can only drive for a maximum of 11 hours. Once a driver has spent 11 hours behind the wheel, they must stop driving for at least 10 consecutive hours of rest. Once a driver has been off-duty for 10 hours, they can start another 11-hour shift.
The 14-hour Rule. Under the 14-hour rule, a driver must complete their 11 hours of driving within a 14-hour time period. If a truck driver begins their day at 8 a.m., they must stop driving 14 hours later at 10 p.m., even if they have not driven a full 11-hour shift. These three extra truck driver work hours allow drivers to do things like stop for meals, perform repairs or maintenance on their vehicle, and stop for fuel and vehicle inspections.
Are Truck Drivers Required to Take Rest Breaks?
Truck drivers must take a 30-minute break after eight hours on the road. If the truck driver drives more than eight hours without a break, they violate the rest break rule.
How Many Truck Driving Hours Can a Trucker Have in a Week?
In addition to the 11-hour rule, the 14-hour rule, and mandatory rest breaks, the FMCSA limits the number of hours a truck driver can drive in a week. Calendar weeks are irrelevant for purposes of calculating total weekly driving hours. Instead, truckers must be aware of their total truck driver work hours over any 7-day period.
60-Hour/Seven Days Rule. If a trucking company’s drivers are not on the road every day of the week, its drivers may operate for a total of 60 hours within any 7-day period.
80-Hours/Eight Days Rule. If a trucking company’s drivers are on the road every day of the week, its drivers can operate a truck for up to 70 hours in any consecutive eight-day period.
The FMCSA allows a truck driver to “restart” their work week at any time by taking 34 consecutive hours of off-duty rest.
Are There Exceptions to the Hours of Service Rules?
The FMCSA has made two important exceptions to the hours of service rules.
16-Hour Exception. A driver on a one-day work schedule can be on duty for up to 16 hours as long as they do not drive for more than 11 hours total and they begin and end at the same terminal. Once a driver has used the 16-hour exception, the driver must take 34 hours of consecutive off-duty rest.
2-Hour Extension. A driver who cannot safely complete a run in 11 hours can drive up to 2 additional hours to reach their destination if adverse weather prevents them from reaching a hotel or rest stop to take a 10-hour break. However, this exception does not mean a driver can just extend their shift just because of bad weather.
How Do Hours of Service Affect My Truck Accident Injury Case?
If you were hurt in a trucking crash, the ELD can be a crucial piece of evidence to establish driver fatigue as a cause of the accident. We will request and review the ELD to determine whether the driver was in compliance with hours of service requirements. If the truck driver was out of compliance, we can use that fact to prove that the truck driver was negligent or that the trucking company that hired the driver was partially responsible for your injuries because of the pressure they placed on the truck driver to ignore the hours of service rules and arrive on-time.
Without assistance from an experienced truck accident injury lawyer, gathering this critical information is almost impossible. The truck accident injury lawyers at Muth Law have the experience, resources, and expertise to thoroughly investigate your truck accident claim and fight for the compensation you and your family deserve.
We invite you to learn more by calling 743-481-8800 anytime to schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss your situation and how we can help. You can also email us at email@example.com or complete our online form.
We stand ready to help and promise to listen, be honest with you, and fight for the compensation you deserve.